Biden Nominee Accused Of Keeping Data Breach A Secret

The nominee that President Joe Biden has put forth to serve as the deputy secretary for the Veterans Affairs Department has been involved in some serious breaches of data security, according to one whistleblower.

These claims have led to demands from some watchdog groups that more information needs to be provided about the situation before the Senate holds its vote on whether the nominee should be confirmed to serve in the role.

Biden nominated Tanya Bradsher back in April to serve in the role at the head of the VA. She currently serves as the chief of staff for the VA. 

She served 20 years for the U.S. Army before she retired as a lieutenant colonel back in 2013. In recent times, she’s faced many questions about how she has handled some sensitive information.

In response to that, at least one person has called for the Senate to “stop the confirmation process” for her until after the U.S. Office of Special Counsel studies the situation and releases information about it. One of the leading voices in this charge is Peter Rizzo, who currently serves as a certified fraud examiner and who retired as a program manager from the VA.

The office is specifically taking a look at the Integrated Workflow Solutions program that the VA uses. It’s an internal tracking system for correspondence called VIEWS that Rizzo currently is responsible for.

Almost one year ago, the office concluded that disclosures from a whistleblower indicated that there was a “substantial likelihood of wrongdoing.” As such, they referred it over to the VA to investigate further.

While the VA was required to issue a report within 60 days, the department has requested and successfully been granted extensions every 60 days since the referral was first made.

Last month, before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was set to hold hearings on the confirmation for Bradsher, Rizzo wrote a letter that read:

“The findings from this investigation are expected to document what I have found to be an incredible and unconscionable mishandling of VA employee and veterans’ personally identifiable information, personal health information, and details of whistleblower disclosures.”

He added that he first voiced concerns he had about deficiencies in the VIEWS system and how employees were misusing it back in July of 2022. Almost one year since that point, though, Rizzo says that Bradsher has “failed to close cavernous security gaps” in it.

He wrote of Bradsher:

“Through her inaction, she has ignored please from whistleblowers to protect their data, and has not been forthcoming with Congress, veteran service organizations, VA employees, or the public about the potential damage VIEWS has caused and may cause in the future.”

Just last week, a non-profit watchdog group known as Empower Oversight and Whistleblowers of America, reiterated the concerns that Rizzo has by sending a letter of its own to John Tester, the Democratic chairman of that Senate committee, as well as Republican Senator Jerry Moran, who is the ranking GOP member on that committee.