A new report (pdf) from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General found that theÂ Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ExplosivesÂ (ATF) had 76 weapons and 418 laptops that were lost, stolen or missing in the last five years. “ATF’s rate of weapons loss per month has nearly tripled since Treasury’s 2002 audit, and the rate of loss per month for laptop computers was 50 times higher than what the 2002 audit revealed,” the Inspector General found.
The Inspector General also found that ATF staff “did not document what data was contained on 398 of the 418 lost, stolen, or missing laptop computers. Consequently, ATF could not provide assurance that these computers did not contain sensitive information, personally identifiable information (PII), or classified information” and “few if any of the laptop computers lost, stolen, or missing” were encrypted. (I have written about the ridiculousness of any government mobile computing devices remain unencrypted when the agencies get up to an 85 percent discount on the price of encryption software through the governmentâ€™sÂ SmartBuy program.)
Also, there are “serious deficiencies in ATF’s response to these lost, stolen, or missing items. ATF staff did not report many of the lost, stolen, or missing weapons and laptop computers to ATF’s Internal Affairs Division,” as they are required to do. When the lost items were reported correctly, the Inspector General found that ATF investigated and “appeared to take appropriate disciplinary action.” Of note, “two weapons ATF staff reported as stolen were used to commit crimes.”Â