Breach, Data Security

OPM, DHS, OMB back out of House Committee appearance

Three key agencies pulled out of a scheduled appearance at a Tuesday House Armed Services Committee hearing on government data breaches that exposed a trove of sensitive information, saying in a joint statement that they didn't want their testimony at the closed-door hearing to be transcribed.

The trio, which reports said canceled about an hour before the proceedings were to begin, cited a “last-minute change in the request,” according to the Washington Post.

The Office of Personnel Management, which suffered massive data breaches earlier this year that the committee is investigating; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) noted that to date they had already participated in “more than a dozen classified briefings and open hearings.”

OPM has been harshly criticized for sloppy security practices and a multitude of vulnerabilities that made it ripe for attack. The hackers behind a pair of breaches at the agency, which exposed sensitive information, including security clearance applications, of millions, are believed to be from China.

Calling the agencies refusal to appear “unacceptable,” Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement, "Their excuse, that the testimony would be on the record, is disturbing. The committee transcribes classified briefings regularly.”

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