Washington agency “loses” hundreds of expensive laptops

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Apparently, accountability isn’t one of the virtues of Washington’s Government Printing Office. According to a Dec. 6 audit report by the GPO Office of the Inspector General, hundreds of expensive laptop computers could not be accounted for by agency employees during an audit examination.

Based on the auditors’ findings, the report said that between 150 and 213 of the computers are missing, representing a cost of $331,500 to $470,730. The audit report only tracked the 629 new computers issued between 2005 and 2009 to agency employees and contractors. The average cost of the machines was said to be $2,210.

Surprisingly, the GPO has no written procedures on accounting for the equipment from acquisition through issuance to the end user.  The agency also failed to perform periodic inventories, maintain current records, or ensure that equipment was turned in after employees left the agency.

The auditors were unable to determine if sensitive information may have been leaked as a result of the missing computers. According to the report, “While unknown, the failure to adequately account for laptops may have resulted in the inadvertent exposure of sensitive GPO business information about acquisitions and human capital, as well as the manufacture and issuance of security documents such as U.S. passports.”

The report stated that the reason that the audit was performed, was because the inability to account for expensive laptop computers was prevalent throughout the federal government.

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