- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

More than 90 weapons and 230 laptop computers belonging to the Drug Enforcement Administration have turned up missing during the past six years and, despite efforts by the agency to address weaknesses in tracking the items, “significant deficiencies” remain, a report said today.

The lost and stolen weapons include pistols, rifles, shotguns and a submachine gun, said a 105-page report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which also noted that DEA officials could not say how 198 of 231 laptop computers came to be missing.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine also said the DEA was unable to provide assurance that 226 of the 231 lost or stolen laptop computers did not contain “sensitive or personally identifiable” information, adding that few of the missing laptops were protected by encryption software.

“The DEA has made improvements to its internal controls over weapons and laptop computers since our 2002 audit, such as conducting physical inventories and reconciling these inventories to its financial system records,” Mr. Fine said. “However, we concluded that the DEA still requires significant improvement in its overall controls on weapons and laptops.”

DEA spokesman Garrison K. Courtney said today the agency has made significant improvements in its rate of loss for laptops, adding that in instances where weapons were lost or stolen, “appropriate disciplinary actions” were taken. He also noted that the IG’s report said the DEA was following the appropriate methodology in regard to the inventory of weapons and laptops.

“DEA has recently implemented new interim policy regarding the detailed reporting of lost, stolen and missing laptop computers by all DEA personnel, as well as reporting potential losses of sensitive information … that may have been contained on lost and stolen laptops,” Mr. Courtney said.

In its written response to the IG’s report, the DEA disagreed with a recommendation that all its laptop computers be encrypted, saying that as of December 2007, DEA laptops that process sensitive information already have full disk encryption, but others — including those used to support electronic surveillance, computer forensics, polygraph examinations and other digital monitoring functions — are exempt from the security requirements.

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