The head of the U.S. government\’s personnel office resigned abruptly on Friday, giving in to bipartisan calls for her to step down following a government data breach that is believed to be the biggest in U.S. history.
Katherine Archuleta, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, submitted her resignation to President Barack Obama on Friday morning, the White House said. That comes a day after the Obama administration said hackers stole Social Security identification numbers and other highly sensitive data from more than 21 million people.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Archuleta wasn\’t forced out but said, "It\’s quite clear that new leadership, with a set of skills and experiences that are unique to the urgent challenges that OPM faces, are badly needed."
She will be replaced on a temporary basis by the agency\’s deputy director, Beth Cobert, who will step into the role on Saturday.
Archuleta had told reporters Thursday she had no intention of leaving and that her agency was doing everything it could to address concerns. But within hours of the Obama administration on Thursday releasing new details about the scope of the breach, House Republican leaders demanded new leadership in the agency, and a number of Democrats followed.
Hackers downloaded Social Security numbers, health histories or other highly sensitive data from OPM\’s databases, affecting more than five times the 4.2 million people the government first disclosed this year. Since then, the administration had acknowledged a second, related breach of systems housing private data that individuals submit during background investigations to obtain security clearances.
Among the data the hackers stole: criminal, financial, health, employment and residency histories, as well as information about families and acquaintances. The second, larger attack affected more than 19 million people who applied for clearances, as well as nearly 2 million of their spouses, housemates and others.
Numerous U.S. lawmakers who have been briefed on the federal investigation have said emphatically that China\’s government was responsible for the hack, and investigators previously told The Associated Press that the U.S. government was increasingly confident that China\’s government was responsible.
Yet the White House has refused to point the finger at China, saying only that the same party was responsible for both of the breaches.
China has publicly denied involvement in the break-in.