Missing laptops steam lawmakers

"Reforming FBI Management: The Views from Inside and Out"

It wasn't until last year that the FBI began using a system to keep track of its 13,000 laptop computers—too late to prevent the loss or theft of 184 computers, bureau officials said.

FBI officials revealed July 17 that those laptops disappeared during the past 11 years, and as many as three of the computers contained sensitive or classified information.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said he asked the Justice Department inspector general to conduct an inventory of laptops and other items, to determine how the computers got lost "and to help us design a way to keep it from happening."

Acting FBI Director Tom Pickard said officials believe that at least 13 of the 184 computers were stolen.

"This is simply inexcusable," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking minority member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, at a contentious July 18 hearing.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee chairman, asked FBI officials who was accountable for these issues. Kenneth Senser, the FBI acting deputy assistant director for security programs and countermeasures, said FBI policy makes each person accountable for his or her own laptop.

"So you can have laptops with classified information, and you sort of leave it up to the person to make sure it's turned in when it's supposed to be?" Leahy asked.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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