IRS officials disclosed that keys at two leased Treasury Department buildings in Washington have been "compromised," and the agency has signed off on an emergency no-bid contract for a locksmith to change hundreds of locks.
The contract, reviewed by The Washington Times, doesn't reveal the extent of any physical security breach, but says "master keys and sub-master keys have been compromised" at leased buildings at 1801 L St. and 717 14th St. in northwest Washington.
The contract was made public this week on a government procurement database.
The $32,000 sole source contract states that about 760 cylinders had to be re-pinned, and only one locksmith — Baltimore-based Bill Lorenz Locksmith — could do the job because that company designed the system for the Treasury buildings.
An IRS spokesman said the tax agency doesn't have any offices at either location, but added the IRS does handle some procurement functions for other Treasury Department components.
A Treasury spokesman reached Wednesday evening said there multiple layers of security at both locations, but couldn't provide any details on how the keys went missing, nor how many there were.
"Treasury has multiple layers of security in place and there have been no recent reports of lost or stolen property. We have already taken measures to ensure that our facilities remain secure," the spokesman said.
The 717 14th Street address houses the Treasury Department's newly created Office of Financial Research, which was formed in the wake of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms to provide beefed up financial analysis for regulators. Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund is based at the L Street address.
Reached by phone Wednesday the locksmith, Mr. Lorenz, declined to comment when asked if he could provide any information about whether Treasury keys had been stolen or how they apparently went missing.
The contract record states Mr. Lorenz's company is the only vendor authorized to modify the existing key system.
Security consultant Robert Siciliano said that while it's never good have to have keys unaccounted for in a government building, there ought to be additional security presence, including guards, for any area with locks matching the compromised keys.
"In the case of the Treasury Department, one would think that they'd be on a high level of alert," he said.
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