Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ATF Loses Weapons, Laptops

The Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General today released the report of an audit: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Controls Over Its Weapons, Laptop Computers, and Other Sensitive Property.

The audit covered almost five years (Oct. 2002 through Aug. 2007). During that time, 76 weapons and 418 laptops were lost, stolen, or missing. On the one hand, that might not be so bad, given that the agency has 4,845 employees, 22,476 weapons, and 7,505 laptops. On the other hand, if anyone should be able to keep track of weapons, wouldn't it be the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives? You kind of don't want the agents misplacing any guns. Or, for that matter, laptops that could have information about investigations. And when things do go missing, you'd like the agents to report them according to the department's internal policies -- which didn't always happen.

A table (p. 20) compares the ATF with the FBI and DEA:

Lost or MissingATF FBI
Weapons 41 66 22
Rate of loss per month per 1,000 agents 0.28 0.12 0.07
Laptops 368 116 206
Rate of loss per month per 1,000 agents 2.53 0.210.63

There's room for improvement.

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