As news of a massive federal data breech continues to spread, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., introduced legislation Monday to safeguard the computer network used by the State Department’s inspector general.
Testimony in April before the subcommittee Perdue chairs revealed that the State Department’s network is attacked regularly.
“We are attacked every day, thousands of times a day,” said Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom.
Inspector General Steve Linick testified that all that hacking impacts his investigations. Plus, he also expressed concern about snooping by his own colleagues within the department who might be interested in the details of his inquiries.
“So they really have unfettered access to the system. If they wanted to, they could read, modify, delete any of our work,” he said.
The bill Perdue sponsored, along with the subcommittee’s senior Democrat, requires the Office of Inspector General to use a separate network from the rest of the State Department.
It also requires department officials to notify Linick’s office within five days of any alleged employee misconduct and to cooperate with his investigations.
“No. 1 is our ability to get early notification of misconduct involving serious or criminal activity, and our ability to investigate that — at least decide whether we are going to investigate that — and return it back to the department,” he said.
Perdue chairs the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on State Department and United States Agency for International Development’s Management, International Operations, and Bilateral International Development.
Even before the huge data breech came to light, Republicans renewed their quest when they took control of the Senate in January to uncover more details about the 2012 attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead while Hillary Clinton helmed the State Department. Perdue questioned Linick about his and other probes into the attack during his first hearing as chairman, calling the department “scandal-ridden” and a “liability.”
“The State (Office of Inspector General) must be able to conduct thorough, independent investigations on the State Department without obstruction from the very individuals who might warrant investigating,” he said. “Making the OIG more independent is an important first step in turning our State Department from a liability into its proper role as a strategic foreign policy tool.”
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