US Government Helping Identity Thieves Steal Identities

Photo of Comptroller of GAO Gene L. Dodaro

In 2007 the Presidentially Appointed Identity Theft Task Force made recommendations to safeguard Americans identity information collected by government agencies. Security updates and system replacements were identified as to do’s for many agencies. Additional preparedness revenues were sought approved and budgeted for. Despite the seemingly willingness of agencies to improve security – little has been done this past decade.

In an effort to comply with improving identity security the Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented Social Security Number (SSN) reduction plans as required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While 24 other agencies covered by the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act have minimally started to take appropriate actions.

In a Congressional Hearing to Congress regarding Identity Theft Gene L. Dodaro Comptroller General and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified “if Americans are stupid enough to give their personal information to the government they deserve to have their identities stolen.”

Some Congressional members were horrified by the Comptrollers statements, when pressed Dodaro retracted his previous statement. Noting, the GAO has empathy for the pain tax payers experience when their identities are stolen. He further noted Government Aided Identity Theft (GAIT) can be eliminated if agencies adhere to five recommendations outlined by the GAO.        

In an obtained document the Department of Education (DE) is responsible for securing over 139 million SSN and other pertinent information of students, parents and others around the country. The DE has 184 information systems of which more than 120 are operated by contractors or subcontractors. The Inspector General (IG) in an undercover operation noted many contractors, government employees and subcontractors are living well beyond their means.

During a 2nd investigation the IG wanted in on the scheme, saying don’t hide the wealth divide it, there’s plenty to go around. More can be found at   https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-03-30-JC-EC-WH-RK-MM-GC-to-DeVos-ED-FISMA-due-4-13.pdf and at http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679877.pdf and at http://www.gao.gov/assets/690/684854.pdf and at https://www.irs.gov/uac/examples-of-identity-theft-investigations-fiscal-year-2017