Report: FBI still losing laptops

The U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said the FBI is losing up to three laptops a month and failing to determine if confidential data was on them.

The U.S. Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General says in a new report (.pdf) that the FBI is losing up to three laptops a month and is unable to determine if confidential data is on them.

"We recognize that in an organization the size of the FBI, some weapons and laptops will inevitably be stolen or go missing," OIG said in the report. "However, it is important the FBI take appropriate steps to minimize these losses."

As unsettling as the loss of three laptops a month may be, OIG acknowledged that the FBI's track record has improved quite a bit in the last five years. In 2002, for example, OIG reported that the FBI had lost, misplaced or reported stolen 317 laptops in the space of 28 months.

The latest report is based on a 44-month review, which revealed the overall loss or theft of about 160 weapons and 160 laptops.

While the FBI's track record has improved, the OIG said the agency still needs to do better at tracking lost or stolen equipment.

Not surprisingly, FBI Assistant Director John Miller focused on the 312% reduction in lost or stolen laptops cited by the report.

"It is notable that the Inspector General has concluded the FBI has made significant progress in decreasing the rate of loss for weapons and laptops," he said in a statement. "Nonetheless, we acknowledge more needs to be done to ensure the proper handling of the loss and theft of weapons and laptops, and the information maintained on them."

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