USCIS needs to better track its laptops, IG says

The US Citizenship & Immigration Services agency needs to do a better job at keeping its 6,659 laptop computers inventoried and updated, according to a new federal audit report.

The agency enters information about each laptop into the Sunflower Asset Management System, assigns the laptop and customizes it for the employee.

However, the records were incomplete and some of the computers were running outdated software, according to the May 4 report from the Homeland Security Department Office of Inspector General.

“USCIS did not have an accurate inventory of its laptops,” the report said. “Specifically, property custodians did not consistently enter laptop data into the property management system, and data in different systems did not always agree. Furthermore, not all laptops were assigned to specific users, and USCIS did not adequately track which laptops were provided to contractors.”

For example, about 3 percent of a random sample of laptops had a computer name that did not match the bar code, and 6 percent had nonstandard internal computer names. USCIS has begun using hand-held barcode scanners to increase the accuracy of the inventory, the report added. Those deficiencies, potentially affecting about 600 laptops in total, made it difficult to accurately locate all the laptops owned by the agency.

The inability to keep track of the laptops contributed to other shortcomings as well, including identifying which computers needed updates to their software, the inspector general wrote in the report.

The data on the laptops were not always secured with the latest encryption software. In a random sample of 287 laptops that were audited, 1.8 percent were running old versions of encryption software and 4.5 percent had no encryption or inactive encryption.

The audit also identified outdated operating systems in 4 percent of the laptops in our random sample.

The inspector general made five recommendations and the agency agreed with all of them.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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