President Obama on Tuesday nominated Beth Cobert to become director of the Office of Personnel Management. She has been acting OPM director since July.
The former deputy director for management in the Office of Management and Budget took the reins at OPM in the wake of data breaches that compromised the personal information and sensitive security clearance data of more than 21 million current and former federal employees and contractors.
“Beth has effectively pursued strategies to strengthen cybersecurity and improve the way the government serves citizens, businesses, and the federal workforce both past and present,” Obama said in a statement.
Lawmakers praised the choice. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said, “Given the magnitude of these breaches and the other challenges facing OPM, permanent, Senate-confirmed leadership at the agency is imperative.” Carper said he was impressed with Cobert’s leadership at OMB as well as OPM.
“She is someone who can continue to help lead OPM through this challenging time,” Carper said.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also said he thought highly of the choice. “In my initial meetings with Beth Cobert, she has impressed me as a talented, qualified, and competent choice for OPM Director. I am hopeful that she can lead and fix this agency.” Nonetheless, he continued to press for the removal of OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour for her role in the breach.
The Committee’s Ranking Member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., also praised Cobert: “Acting Director Cobert has done a great job in her efforts to improve OPM, and I am confident that she is the right person to lead the agency.”
American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. joined the chorus as well, saying she had done an “admirable job” as acting director.
“She has answered questions about the data breach honestly, has taken steps to bring in-house the work associated with notifying affected employees, and seems to understand IT adequately enough to make sure that security measures are in place to minimize further breaches,” Cox said.