The VA announced Tuesday that it has initiated the process of firing the data analyst who took home sensitive personal data on 26.5 million veterans, putting them at risk for identify theft when those records were stolen four weeks ago, GovExec.com reported.
VA Secretary James Nicholson has said the unnamed data analyst violated department policy by taking home unencrypted records containing the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for veterans discharged since 1975 and those receiving VA disability compensation. According to VA officials, the career employee, who had worked at the agency for more than 30 years, had been taking sensitive data home since 2003.
In addition, the department is replacing the leadership of the division in which the data analyst worked, GovExec.com said.
Dennis Duffy, the Veterans Administration acting assistant secretary for policy and planning, was put on administrative leave. The U.S. Senate is considering the recent nomination of Patrick W. Dunne for the assistant secretary job.
The theft of the data occurred May 3 when the home of the analyst was burglarized in what law enforcement authorities believe was a routine break-in. The employee was placed on administrative leave soon after agency officials were informed of the break-in.
According to an internal agency document dated May 5 and obtained by Government Executive from the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, telephone numbers and addresses were included for some of the veterans and a smaller database identified the names, dates of birth, service numbers and Social Security numbers of 6,744 veterans who had been exposed to chemical or biological agents.