Lawmakers press for answers on Thrift Savings Plan cyber breach

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have pledged to look into the July 2011 cyberattack on the servers of a third-party Thrift Savings Plan contractor, which compromised the personal information of 123,000 TSP participants.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., is pressing the FBI to explain the lapse of time between when the bureau became aware of the attack and when the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board was notified.

The attack was lodged against FRTIB contractor Serco Inc. in July 2011. The board was notified in April 2012 and is currently notifying the 123,000 beneficiaries affected by the cyberattack.

She also is pressing FRTIB, which oversees the TSP, to explain why affected participants and Senate committees were not notified until late May, when the board learned of the attack in April.

Collins, ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote letters to FBI Director Robert Mueller and FRTIB Executive Director Greg Long on Tuesday after being notified Friday of the sophisticated cyberattack that led to unauthorized access to personal information of TSP participants, including their names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

The senator requested responses from the FBI and FRTIB, including copies of the notification letters sent to TSP participants and the specific data that was exposed. She also asked why Congress was not notified in April, when the board learned of the attack, and whether FRTIB would modify its congressional notification process going forward.

In the letter addressed to the FBI, Collins also asked why the bureau did not report the attack to Congress at the same it reported to the TSP advisory board and whether the FBI was the first federal entity to discover the attack.

FRTIB Director of External Affairs Kim Weaver said the board was wary of alarming all its participants, because approximately 1 in 40 TSP participants were affected. The board would not release a copy of the letter, slated to arrive in mailboxes earlier this week because it did not want all TSP beneficiaries to call the help line number provided. That number is meant exclusively for the 123,000 affected by the breach.

The House Oversight and Government Affairs committee also is currently receiving and reviewing information related to the incident, according to a spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Neither the Office of Personnel Management nor the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general plans to investigate FRTIB as of Wednesday. The Government Accountability Office has not yet been asked to conduct an investigation, GAO spokesman Chuck Young said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.