Hundreds of Laptops Missing at State Department
The State Department’s computer security team has lost 400-odd laptop computers, CQ’s Jeff Stein reports.
Hundreds of employee laptops are unaccounted for at the U.S. Department of State, which conducts delicate, often secret, diplomatic relations with foreign countries, an internal audit has found.
As many as 400 of the unaccounted for laptops belong to the department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, according to officials familiar with the findings. The program provides counterterrorism training and equipment, including laptops, to foreign police, intelligence and security forces. Ironically, the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program is administered by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), which is responsible for the security of the department’s computer networks and sensitive equipment, including laptops, among other duties. It also protects foreign diplomats during visits here.
DS officials have been urgently dispatching vans around the bureau’s Washington-area offices to collect and register employee laptops, said department sources who could not speak on the record for fear of being fired.
The inventory sometimes strips DS investigators of their laptops for “days, or weeks,” they said.
Truly bizarre. My guess is that Bruce McQuain is on the right track here and that this is more a matter of bureaucratic incompetence rather than any serious security issue. Indeed, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the computers wound up pretty much where they were supposed to go but that the system for keeping track of them is so screwed up that we’ll never know for sure.
And only a bureaucratic agency could come up with a solution that simultaneously 1) won’t solve the problem, 2) costs innumerable manhours of work not to get done, and 3) has everyone getting paid as per usual.