“We need to prevent another round of sequestration,” Coons said, referring to the mandated automatic government budget cuts. “Sequestration could critically threaten those investments and even the livelihoods of our employees.”
Coons made the comments during a Senate Financial Services and General Government hearing on Tuesday.
He was referring to the June 4, 2015 OPM announcement that a cybersecurity breach has compromised personal data of up to four million current and past government employees.
Earlier on Tuesday, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told the Senate that the breach has increased to include anybody who has applied for employment with the US government, or 18 million people, including individuals who have applied to obtain security clearances.
US lawmakers have previously stated that OPM is now a prime cyber-target and will probably be hacked again.
Coons noted the budget request for Fiscal Year 2016 includes a $32 million increase over last year’s enacted level, stressing it will address IT infrastructure improvements.
“Some of these cuts might be weathered in the short term, they can have serious long term impact, and I think we need to work together to ensure federal agencies are prepared as best they can be to protect against cyber threats,” Coons explained.
US officials have told media off the record that China is behind the cyberattack on the OPM. However, the administration of President Barack Obama has avoided making any explicit accusation and China has denied being involved in the cyber-breach.
The Office of Personnel Management is an independent US federal agency that manages the civil service of the federal government, including the recruitment and retaining of government employees.