Energy reports losing 1,400 laptops in six years

The Energy Department notified Congress yesterday that it has lost 1,415 laptop PCs over the past six years. The department said none of the laptops contained classified information.

The figure represents approximately two percent of its current inventory of laptop computers, or approximately 71,874 units used either by agency personnel or contractors.

The Energy Department statement broke down the missing laptops by year, with 144 reported missing for 2001, 248 in 2002, 256 in 2003, 258 in 2004, 223 in 2005 and 205 in 2006. Another 81 laptops were identified as missing, though the years those went missing were not disclosed. The agency revealed the information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by WTOP, a Washington, D.C., news radio station.

As a result of these findings, which track missing units up until June 2006, Energy secretary Samuel Bodman directed a full inventory of laptops, which subsequently recovered 100 of these units, Energy spokeswoman Megan Barnett said.

Since his appointment in 2005, Bodman has recognized that "management deficiencies have been an issue throughout the history of the department," Barnett said. "He has been working to fully identify weaknesses and correct them at their source," in regards to computer inventory control.

Barnett added that the laptop issue is "is something that has been developing over many years."

Of the stolen or lost laptops, the agency stated none carried classified information. Two laptops possibly held personal information (one had a resume and the other carried a performance evaluation), and one laptop possibly had an internal "Office Use Only" document.

Nine of the laptops used encryption software.

None of the individuals whom the missing laptops were issued to received disciplinary actions for the misplacement of the laptops.

About the Authors

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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