Computer Flaw at Hacked U.S. Agency Stalls Checks on Job Hunters

The U.S. government is seeking alternative ways to vet prospective employees for sensitive jobs after the online system used to conduct background checks was shut down Monday due to a security flaw.

The Office of Personnel Management is notifying government agencies of interim procedures they can use to hire applicants or conduct clearance investigations until the online system is restored, Samuel Schumach, a press secretary for the the OPM, said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The personnel office, which was targeted by a cyber-attack that stole data on as many as 18 million people, later uncovered a security hole in its e-QIP system for vetting employees. The agency suspended use of that system for four to six weeks to fix the flaw.

New employees, contractors and current employees who require reinvestigation for federal government jobs will have to wait until e-QIP is running again or fill out the required forms on paper. Forms filed before June 26 aren’t affected.

“OPM will also work with agencies to explore interim processes for submitting these forms while e-QIP is unavailable,” Schumach said.

The original cyber-attack was first revealed June 4. On June 12, the White House and OPM announced that hackers may have accessed sensitive information given for background checks, including Social Security numbers.