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Personnel shakeup at VA follows data breach

Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson made a series of personnel changes this week following last month's theft of the personal data of more than 26.5 million veterans.

Nicholson named former Maricopa County, Ariz., Attorney Richard M. Romley, himself a decorated veteran of the war in Vietnam, as his new special advisor for information security.

Romley will report directly to Nicholson, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) statement, and will be responsible for evaluating the department’s information security procedures.

"Richard Romley is a well respected attorney and veteran who will provide a critical outsider’s perspective to VA as we work diligently to reform the department’s information security policies and procedures," said Nicholson. "Rich shares my commitment to cutting through bureaucracy to provide results for our nations veterans."

Nicholson expressed anger last week that he wasn’t notified earlier about the May 3 theft.

The FBI and the VA inspector general office have launched an investigation into the burglary, which occurred in Aspen Hill, Va.

VA also announced a series of personnel shake-ups within the department’s Policy and Planning Office.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Mike McLendon resigned effective Friday. Dennis Duffy, acting assistant secretary for policy and planning, has been placed on administrative leave, VA announced this week.

Paul Hutter, assistant general counsel for management and operations, will temporarily take over the Office of Policy and Planning, Nicholson announced.

Hutter will oversee the agency until the U.S. Senate confirms another assistant secretary to take his place.

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