Despite its very public failure to protect the data of about 150 million Americans, Equifax has landed a fat government deal to prevent fraud. Under the $7.25 million no-bid contract signed last month, the embattled credit bureau will provide the IRS with taxpayer and personal identity verification services, Politico reports. The agency says Equifax alone is qualified for the job, despite the company's role in one of the worst data breaches ever. The IRS defended the move to stick with Equifax, saying it has an existing contract for similar services with the company and does not believe Equifax poses a risk to IRS data. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of at least two lawmakers who wrote the IRS protesting the deal, said that, "I was initially under the impression that my staff was sharing a copy of the Onion, until I realized this story was, in fact, true."
As news of the deal triggered incredulity on Twitter, the company's embattled ex-CEO told a bipartisan House panel on Tuesday he was sorry hackers got their hands on so much private information, per the New York Times. Richard F. Smith blamed a sole employee for flouting security warnings and failing to perform necessary software updates to keep billions of records safe. (An Equifax rep wouldn't tell the Times if the worker was still employed.) Smith, who resigned last week, downplayed the crisis, but lawmakers weren't having it. "How does this happen?" asked GOP Rep. Greg Walden. "I don’t think we can pass a law that … fixes stupid." (Feds are investigating Equifax execs who dumped $2 million in stock before the scandal broke.)