IG: Energy Department lost computer equipment

At least 18 pieces of 'computer processing equipment,' including at least one laptop, are missing from the Energy Department's Office of Intelligence (IN), and department officials do not know whether any of it was used for or contained classified information, according to a new report from DOE's inspector general.

The report, titled 'Internal Controls Over Sensitive Property in the Office of Intelligence,' was posted on the IG's Web site late last week.

'During our field work we identified numerous discrepancies regarding the program office's sensitive property inventory,' IG Gregory Friedman wrote. '[W]e worked extensively with program officials during the course of the review in an effort to reconcile the inventory discrepancies and strengthen inventory controls. Nevertheless, problems still remained at the conclusion of our review.'

The IG's investigation found that:
  • Officials could not locate 18 items of sensitive computer processing equipment and were unable to determine if the missing items had been used to process classified information

  • Officials had not reported missing sensitive property to the Office of Security and

  • More than 280 pieces of sensitive property had not been entered into the IN's inventory records.

IN personnel told investigators they had no accreditation documentation for the laptop because it was 'legacy' equipment.

As for the other 17 missing items, 'computers that are attached to an accredited network are not individually accredited and IN does not maintain historical records indicating which equipment processed classified information,' Friedman wrote. 'We were informed by IN that the only way it is able to identify equipment that has processed classified information is if the equipment is physically attached to the accredited classified system. Therefore, if an item is no longer attached to the accredited network, there would be no documentation to indicate that the item had been used to process classified information.'

Physical inventories are required annually, as well as whenever the person serving as the accountable property representative departs. Despite those requirements, DOE's Office of Management did not conduct the annual inventories between 2002 and 2005, nor were there inventories despite three different people leaving the representative's position over that time span.

When IN disposes of computer equipment, all pieces are treated as if they had handled classified information, officials told the IG. But there were no records indicating disposal of the missing 18 pieces of equipment.

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