US State Department loses a lot of laptops

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It has surfaced that the US State Department can't account for up to about 1,000 laptops, perhaps as many as 400 of which belonged to the department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.

The State Department's Inspector General has been conducting an equipment audit for three months. Only the first stage, an inventory, has been completed.

Internal auditors found that the department lost track of US$30 million worth of computer equipment, "the vast majority of which... perhaps as much as 99 percent," were laptops, according to one official.

Another official calculated that the average State Department laptop costs US$3,000 and figured that meant as many as 1,000 laptops might be astray - not 10,000 laptops as the US$30 million figure suggests.

The official in charge of computer equipment said the department didn't have good inventory records.

John Streufort warned other department officials that a "significant deficiency" relating to laptops existed.

Christopher Flaggs, the department's deputy CFO, said the issue of the missing laptops could develop into a "material weakness," an auditor term-of-art meaning "really bad news."

John Naland, the retired diplomat who is president of the American Foreign Service Association, said "If the missing ones might have contained classified data, this could be serious."
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