From the Office of Congressman Jeb Bradley
(Washington, D.C.) - First District Congressman Jeb Bradley participated in a hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee this morning about the loss of VA data for 26.5 million veterans and some dependents. According to official testimony, earlier this month a longtime employee at theVA took the data home without permission, and the information was stolen during a burglary of the employee's home. The Committee heard testimony from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, as well as nearly a dozen officials at the VA who are responsible for management and informational technology.
Bradley issued the following statement regarding this morning's hearing:
"I am shocked that the lax policies and procedures in place at the VA would permit the possibility of an employee causing such a massive security breach like this. Moreover, there are serious questions about how this incident was managed, such as delays in reporting the incident within the VA and to law enforcement agencies, as well as the delay in notifying the public. This never should have happened, and numerous officials at several levels at the VA need to be held accountable for what appears to be a systemic problem within the Department.
"There are two primary concerns right now: how to prevent a recurrence of this incident, and how to safeguard the 26.5 million veterans from identity theft.
"During this morning's hearing, I questioned VA officials about how they are disseminating information to veterans, and whether the Department has the authority to reimburse veterans for credit checks and any financial damage they may incur as a result of identity theft. VA officials told the members of the Committee that they do have the authority to reimburse veterans for credit checks, but they have not yet determined a system for doing so. I stressed the need to immediately resolve reimbursement issues so that veterans are not on the hook for paying for credit checks, which is the VA's responsibility.
"However, VA officials indicated during the hearing that they do not have the authority to compensate veterans for any financial damages they incur as a result of this leaked data. I will work with the members of the Committee to ensure that the Department has this authority in place, should they need it now or in the future.
"Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and they, like everyone else, deserve to have their personal information kept safe. We need to ensure that something like this never happens again at the VA or any other federal agency."