2015 OPM data breach claims checks still trickling in

Federal employees should look for a check in the mail if they were impacted by the OPM data breach.

  • Federal employees should look for a check in the mail if they were impacted by the 2015 data breach at the Office of Personnel Management. This month, OPM is paying out a second round of claims in the data breach settlement. The first round of payments went out in December 2023. Any feds who did not complete Social Security number validation by the initial deadline should get their payment in this second round of distributions. There will be a third and final round of payouts later this summer. Feds who missed the May 9 validation deadline may have to forfeit their claim payment. Feds who have questions about the settlement should contact the claims administrator for OPM.
    (OPM data breach settlement - Claim distributions timeline)
  • The Small Business Administration is coming under fire for how it is using money collected in its IT working capital fund. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, is questioning SBA's decision to invest in artificial intelligence capabilities, when it is struggling with basic cybersecurity and IT oversight functions. Ernst wrote to SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman asking five questions, including whether the agency's chief information officer position, vacant since January 2022, is impacting its management of enterprise applications. Ernst also wants details about how SBA has been using the money in its IT working capital fund since 2020.
  • The Postal Service is seeing a surge in crime, but is relying on old data to gauge law enforcement staffing. USPS saw the number of serious postal crimes increase almost every year between 2017 and 2023. That includes a seven-fold increase in robberies. But the Postal Inspection Service, USPS’ law enforcement agency, is relying on crime data from 2011 to determine the size of its workforce. The Postal Inspection Service told the Government Accountability Office that it is working on a new assessment of its workload and staffing. But GAO said there is no clear timeline of when that assessment will be completed.
  • Lawmakers think the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general should play a key role in improving healthcare cybersecurity. A bipartisan bill introduced in the House this month would require the HHS IG to conduct routine penetration tests of health IT systems. The idea is to ensure those systems do not spill sensitive patient data or put healthcare delivery at risk. The tests would apply to IT systems that process or store sensitive HHS data, potentially covering a wide range of U.S. health IT systems. The legislation comes in response to the Change Healthcare hack and other ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations.
  • Multiple end-user agreements are a thing of the past for the U.S. Army, as a key piece to the its unified network strategy is coming to fruition. Maj. Gen. Chris Eubank, the commander of the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCom), speaking at the Army TEMS 12 event in Philadelphia, said by implementing several enterprise services like comply-to-connect and end-point security services, soldiers and civilians will have an easier time accessing data and applications no matter where they are located. "You will be able to pick up your device, or you as a user who moves seamlessly around the globe, sign in, not have to sign another user agreement, get to your services and just get to work."
    (Maj. Gen. Chris Eubank, NETCom commander - Federal News Network)
  • New flexibilities in a Pathways Program update will require some creative thinking from agencies. The Department of Health and Human Services is one agency already looking at how to implement some of those crucial changes to the program. Under new Pathways regulations, agencies have options to offer higher starting salaries, and broaden applicant pools. But the biggest challenge will likely be the availability of resources. “The interest is there, the passion is there; it’s really just finding the time and the resources to do as much as we want to do,” said Kim Steide, a human capital official at HHS. The Pathways Program is designed to bring in younger talent to government and is central to many agencies’ early-career recruitment strategies.
  • Military personnel are now eligible for a daily stipend to cover housing costs when they attend professional military education or training classes. Service members are eligible for this daily stipend if they are stationed at their training location for under a year and return to their primary duty station. The daily stipend will not impact service members’ Basic Allowance for Housing. The Navy and Marine Corps introduced the policy in March and the Air Force and Space Force announced the changes earlier this month.
  • Veterans will pay less for VA-covered mental health care over the next few years. The Department of Veterans Affairs said it will cover copays for a veteran’s first three mental health care or substance use disorder visits each year through 2027. This applies to both VA-provided appointments and non-VA community care. VA is covering these copays under legislation Congress passed two years ago.
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is keeping an eye on eight key research areas. The directorate’s strategic plan for innovation, research and development names artificial intelligence, biotechnology and digital identity as key focus areas through 2030. Released this week, the plan identifies key technology investment goals in the coming years. The document lays out dozens of use cases for AI and automation, including in detecting immigration fraud and improving cybersecurity.

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