Politics

Scandal-Plagued OPM Is Losing Its Top Watchdog

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The security breach-plagued Office of Personnel Management is losing its top watchdog.

OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland is retiring, according to a letter McFarland sent to President Barack Obama earlier this week. McFarland warned the federal government’s human resources arm about cyber security holes for years, but OPM ignored those warnings and hackers stole the personal information of more than 21 million current and former federal employees.

When McFarland steps down Feb. 19, Deputy Inspector General Norbert Vint will take the helm until the president and Senate select his replacement. Given how brief the remainder of Obama’s presidency is and how long Obama has taken to fill IG vacancies, that may not be until 2017, leaving a crippled agency without an official top watchdog. McFarland recommended that Vint replace him.

Inspectors general are responsible for ferreting out agencies’ waste, fraud and abuse.

McFarland’s 25 years as the OPM IG make him the longest-serving presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed IG in the federal government.

“I am proud to inform you that the staff of this organization are careful practitioners of their auditing, law enforcement, and management disciplines — all while steadfastly remaining independent,” McFarland said in the letter.

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