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The Federal Bureau of Prisons'
Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers

Report No. 02-30
August 2002
Office of the Inspector General



Items Reported

At the start of the audit we requested that the BOP provide us with a list of weapons and laptop computers that were lost, missing, or stolen during the period October 1, 1999 to August 27, 2001, in order to perform our audit tests.  The BOP did not provide us with a list, but instead provided us with a database file derived from the SPMS.  As discussed below, we were not able to determine the total number of lost or stolen weapons and computer laptops for FY 2000 and FY 2001 using this information.  We also requested information about lost or stolen weapons and laptop computers from the OIA.  We did so because the OIA should receive reports about lost or stolen property when employee misconduct is alleged.  The OIA reported that two weapons had been lost or stolen during the audit period, but were unaware of any lost or stolen laptop computers.

The database file provided by the BOP included all weapons and laptop computers that were listed as disposed in the SPMS beginning in FY 1992.7 Since 1992 the BOP disposed of 4,307 weapons and 884 laptop computers. We queried the database provided by the BOP for all disposals listed as category "D," which would have included lost or stolen property.  We sorted this information and found that the BOP had 506 weapons and 199 laptop computers listed in this category during the audit period.  In order to determine the number of lost or stolen weapons and laptop computers during our two-year review period, we obtained documentation to support the method of disposal for all 705 items.  We reviewed Reports of Survey, which were often supported by reports of inventory differences, justification memoranda, reports of investigation, photographs of destroyed items, and other similar data.  We found that 2 weapons and 27 laptop computers were lost or stolen from the BOP during the period, as identified in the following table.

2000 405 1 98 13
20018 101 1 101 14
TOTALS 506 2 199 27
Sources:  BOP Inventory Database, BOP documents

We reviewed the circumstances and actions taken by the BOP for these losses. One weapon was lost by an airline while a BOP employee was traveling to specialized training.  The employee promptly reported the loss to the airline, ensured that the airline conducted a search for the missing weapon, and was instrumental in obtaining monetary reimbursement from the airline for the BOP’s loss.  The second weapon was lost during the transfer of several weapons to another facility.  The OIG Investigations Division is currently conducting an investigation into the disappearance of this weapon.  Although the Report of Survey has been completed and the weapon removed from the SPMS, any assessment of liability will be predicated on the results of this investigation.

Of the 27 lost or stolen laptop computers, BOP identified 21 missing during or in preparation for the annual inventory (78 percent), 2 missing from offices inside BOP facilities, and 4 stolen.  In general, the Reports of Survey for laptops computers that were found to be missing during the annual inventory did not provide an adequate description of the investigation of the loss, or an assessment of the liability for the loss.  The BOP took no disciplinary action for any of these losses.

The BOP also recommended no disciplinary actions for the two laptop computers found missing from offices.  One was reported missing by the responsible employee upon discovery of the loss, but BOP took no apparent action to find this item for over four months.  The Report of Survey was not prepared until the end of the annual inventory reconciliation period nine months later.  The Report identified the loss as missing at the annual inventory.  The Board recommended no disciplinary action.  The employee responsible for the second laptop computer conducted a search for the item and reported the loss to the Board of Survey.  The Report of Survey did not document any further investigation of the loss or a recommendation for disciplinary action.

Of the four stolen laptop computers, only two were stolen while outside of the responsible employee’s control.  Based on documentation provided to us by the BOP, it appears that appropriate authorities investigated these losses and did not recommend disciplinary action.  Of the remaining two stolen laptop computers, a terminated employee did not return one loaned to him for training, and one was stolen from the command center of a facility.  The issuing BOP facility was not successful in contacting the terminated individual. We found no evidence that the BOP contacted the appropriate authorities to initiate the return of this property or reimbursement for their loss.  Regarding the laptop computer stolen from the command center, the only evidence of investigation was a search of the area.  The Report of Survey did not document any further investigation of this loss or make any recommendation for disciplinary action.  (Appendix II provides details regarding the circumstances surrounding these losses.)

We also tried to ascertain if these lost items resulted in physical harm to the public or compromised national security or investigative information.  We queried NCIC and the Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) National Tracing Center database for indications that law enforcement personnel had recovered the lost or stolen BOP weapons.  Neither system provided an indication that the two weapons had been recovered or otherwise linked to crime.  We did find that one weapon donated by the BOP9 to a local law enforcement agency was stolen and subsequently recovered by an officer of the agency.  The local Chief of Police stated that he was not aware of the weapon being linked to criminal behavior during the time it was missing.

According to the BOP and the SEPS, BOP had only one laptop computer authorized to process classified materials as of August 2001.  We physically inspected how BOP used this computer.  The security measures utilized to protect this computer appeared to be adequate.  Management officials of the BOP stated that all other laptop computers process sensitive to non-sensitive information only.  We found no indications that this was not the case. 

Reports and Investigations of Losses

We reviewed the documentation related to the property losses as identified above to determine if:  (1) the responsible employee took appropriate action to submit the initial loss report, (2) BOP initiated the recordation of missing firearms into the NCIC, (3) the ATF National Tracing Center identified the missing firearms, (4) the BOP Board of Survey performed timely investigations to resolve the incidents, and (5) BOP reported items to the Department Security Officer.  (Our results are detailed below and summarized in Appendices III and V [Not available electronically].)

Initial Loss Reports - We examined the Reports of Survey and supporting documentation for the 2 lost weapons and the 27 lost or stolen laptop computers.  Both weapons were reported lost within 24 hours.  We were unable to determine the timeliness of the initial report of loss for 15 of the 27 lost or stolen laptop computers because the dates of discovery and/or reporting of the loss were unknown.  For the 12 remaining laptop computers, BOP reported 10 within 24 hours, 1 within 6 days, and 1 in 164 days.  We found that the format for the initial reports of loss was not consistent, and varied from telephone calls and memoranda to supervisors, to submission of Reports of Equipment Inventory Differences during the annual inventory.

The BOP Property Management Manual states that each employee is personally responsible for the care and protection of assigned property. Individual employees are required to report any instance of loss, theft, or damage to his/her APO and Property Officer. BOP policy does not provide a reporting format or a time frame requirement for the initial report of a loss or theft, except for those losses discovered during the annual inventory. Losses discovered during the annual inventory must be reported to the Property Officer during the 30 days allotted to conduct the inventory.  According to the BOP Property Management Manual, the APO is required to forward appropriate investigative reports to the facility’s Property Officer for Board of Survey action.  The Property Officer must investigate10 all loss, damage, and destruction of controlled property to determine liability, take appropriate action, and refer the matter to the local Board of Survey using a BP-S111.044, Report of Survey.11 The Board of Survey in turn investigates the circumstances surrounding the loss, damage, or destruction of personal property to assess monetary liability and recommend administrative actions to be taken with the Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO)12 final approval.  Each member of the Board of Survey must sign the Report of Survey signifying agreement with the recommended action.  Employees may be held liable and can be required to reimburse the government when the employee’s negligence, carelessness, or dereliction of duty contributes to the loss or damage.

In our judgment, these variations in reporting time occurred because the BOP does not have specific policies and procedures for reporting thefts and losses other than for losses discovered during the annual inventory.  The BOP needs to develop such policies and procedures to include ensuring that Reports of Survey include dates of approval.  (See Appendix III for an analysis of these items identified as lost or stolen.)

NCIC Report – The NCIC system is generally regarded by law enforcement agencies to be the primary nationwide method for tracking stolen firearms.  Certain agencies are authorized to enter reports of stolen firearms into NCIC, while other agencies are only authorized to view the reports.  The BOP must request another agency to enter into NCIC the information about stolen BOP firearms.  The Chief, Policy and Information Resource Management, BOP, told us that the USMS enters information into NCIC for the BOP, but the BOP could not provide any policy requiring that lost or stolen firearms be entered into NCIC or the method or circumstances for having another agency enter this information for them.

We examined the NCIC records to determine if the two lost BOP weapons were recorded promptly into the system.  We determined that one of the two weapons had been entered within 11 days of the loss, and as of June 7, 2002, had an active NCIC record.  The second weapon was entered into the NCIC system on June 7, 2002 although it was found to be missing on May 22, 2001.13 It is not clear to us why this weapon was not promptly entered into NCIC, but we believe that the lack of BOP policy for reporting lost or stolen items to NCIC was a contributing factor.

ATF National Tracing Center – The ATF National Tracing Center maintains information on law enforcement agencies that have requested a trace on a particular weapon and records of weapons involved in multiple purchase sales. We examined ATF records and determine that no law enforcement agency had requested a trace on either of the two lost weapons.  However, as a result of our review of ATF records, we found that the United States Penitentiary (USP) Terre Haute donated 99 weapons to the Plainfield Correctional Facility in Plainfield, Indiana, through the GSA Federal Surplus Supply Property Program authorized under CFR 41, Chapter 101-42.1102-10.  Under this program state agencies coordinate the weapons needs of state and local law enforcement units with federal surplus weapons provided to GSA by federal agencies.  The state or local agency that receives the surplus federal weapons is required to sign a Firearm(s) Conditional Transfer Document that prohibits the donee from ever selling, trading, leasing, lending, bailing, cannibalizing, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of the firearms.  The donee had included at least 7, and as many as 99, weapons received from the BOP in a barter transaction with a weapons vendor to receive new weapons.  We referred this incident to the GSA OIG for further action.  On February 25, 2002, the Plainfield Correctional Facility was placed on temporary deferment or suspension from participation in the surplus property donation program pending the outcome of a compliance review and investigation. 

Board of Survey – As stated above, the Property Officer must refer all losses of controlled personal property to the Board of Survey.  Each BOP facility maintains its own Board of Survey consisting of a Chairman and two additional members:

Source:  BOP Property Management Manual

The Board is required to review the circumstances for each loss, determine employee responsibility, and make recommendations to the CEO for administrative actions and financial liability if warranted.  In instances where employees are found responsible, the Chairman may recommend attachment of the employee’s salary, administrative action, or referral of the case to the OIA.  Upon completion of the Board’s actions, the item may be listed as disposed in the SPMS.

We examined the Reports of Survey to determine if prompt action was taken to review the 2 missing or stolen weapons and 27 laptop computers.  We were unable to determine the number of days that elapsed between the initial report of the loss by the responsible employee and the completion of the investigation by the Board of Survey for 20 of the 29 items (including both weapons) because relevant dates were not recorded.  For the remaining 9 items, the elapsed time varied from 6 to 588 days.  As previously stated, the Board did not recommend disciplinary action in any of these 29 cases.  In general, the BOP Reports of Survey need to be enhanced to ensure that relevant dates are completed and that there is sufficient documentation of the action taken to investigate the loss and the disciplinary action recommended by the Board of Survey.  In particular, we recommend that the BOP initiate action to retrieve the laptop computer that was not relinquished by a separated employee.

Department Semiannual Report - Department regulations require all components to submit a semiannual report to the Department Security Officer summarizing losses that occurred during the previous six months.14  The component’s Security Programs Manager is required to prepare and submit the reports by January 31 and July 31 for the preceding six-month periods.

The BOP Security Programs Manager reached an agreement with the Department Security Officer to submit an annual report for 2001 instead of submitting two semiannual reports during that year.  The BOP’s submissions during our two-year audit period are detailed in the following table.

July 1 to December 31, 1999 January 31, 2000 January 28, 2000
January 1 to June 30, 2000 July 31, 2000 August 1, 2000
July 1 to December 31, 2000 January 31, 2001 January 31, 2001
January 1 to December 31, 2001 January 31, 2002 NA15
Source:  Department Security Officer

These reports listed six laptop computers and no weapons as lost or stolen during the two-year period of our review.  Of the six laptop computers listed, two were listed in the SPMS as lost or stolen after the cutoff date of the database file provided by the BOP.  Therefore, they were not included in the 27 laptop computers that we identified as lost or stolen.  In addition, one of the six laptop computers was recovered by local law enforcement and reactivated in the SPMS.  Accordingly, it also was not included in the 27 lost or stolen.  The remaining 3 laptop computers were listed in the SPMS as lost or stolen and were part of the 27 we identified.

We concluded that the Department Semiannual Reports identifying lost or stolen items during the 2-year period of our review were unreliable because they did not include 24 of the 27 lost or stolen laptop computers or the 2 missing weapons.  The Security Programs Manager stated that the weapons were not included in the semiannual reports because the facilities do not report them until the investigation and property management disposal process are completed.  He also stated that for items that are highly sensitive in nature, this policy should be overridden, and items should be reported immediately.  We believe that weapons are highly sensitive and should be reported immediately.  We also believe that the two weapons were not included on the Department Semiannual Reports because the BOP does not have a policy or procedures directing the reporting of lost or stolen weapons through the BOP chain of command either to the BOP Security Programs Manager or to the PMO.

The PMO stated that he receives copies of the semiannual reports from the BOP Security Programs Manager and reviews them for security violations or patterns that might indicate problems.  However, the PMO does not compare the semiannual reports to the property management system because the responsibility for entering disposed items in the system resides in each facility.  Therefore, there is no method currently in place to determine whether thefts and losses reported to the Department Security Officer are accurate or whether entries into the property management system for lost and stolen weapons and laptop computers were completed timely and accurately.


The BOP property management system could not identify the number of weapons and laptop computers that were lost or stolen during the two fiscal year of our audit period.  We were able to identify 2 weapons and 27 laptop computers that were lost or stolen from the BOP within that period by examining disposal documentation for 506 weapons and 199 laptop computers.  We found that the BOP did not have adequate policies and procedures to report missing weapons and laptop computers resulting in inconsistent initial reports of loss, inadequate documentation of the investigation of the loss and assessment of liability, inaccurate reports to the Department Security Office, and untimely reporting of missing weapons to NCIC.


    We recommend that the BOP Director:

  1. Implement procedures to maintain an accurate count of lost and stolen weapons and laptop computers.
  2. Develop policy and implement procedures for reporting missing weapons and laptop computers through the BOP chain of command to ensure that:
    1. initial reports of loss are timely and consistent.  This policy should ensure an audit trail and should address:  the report format, the time period allowed between the discovery of the loss and filing of the report, identification of the person to report to, the method to forward the report to the Property Officer and the Security Programs Manager, follow-up mechanisms to ensure that an investigation was conducted, follow-up mechanism to determine the final disposition of the property, a central log of all reports filed, and a reconciliation of confirmed thefts and losses recorded as such in the property management system to the Department Semiannual Report;
    2. lost or stolen weapons are promptly entered into the NCIC system; and
    3. Reports of Survey are improved to include relevant dates, adequate documentation of the action taken to investigate the loss, and an assessment of the disciplinary action required.

  3. Initiate action to recover the laptop computer from the separated employee or receive reimbursement for the value of the item when appropriated.
  4. Ensure that all Property Officers understand and utilize the "method of disposal" field in the property management system so that lost and stolen items are identified as such.
  5. Advise Property Officers to review procedures for lost, missing, and stolen property with their APOs, and remind all employees of their responsibility for reporting lost, missing, or stolen property.


  1. Prior to FY 2001, BOP policy required that all property lost, stolen, missing, destroyed, excessed, transferred, donated, or returned to a vendor be recorded in the SPMS as category “D.”  During FY 2001 (no specific date was identified), the BOP changed category “D” to include only items that were lost or stolen.
  2. The data provided was inclusive to August 27, 2001.
  3. During the review process, we identified a potential problem involving weapons that BOP donated to a state correctional facility.  While the BOP’s donation appeared to be in accordance with federal law, the state facility may have violated federal law by engaging in an exchange of these weapons for new weapons.  We referred this matter to the GSA OIG.
  4. During the annual inventory reconciliation period, the APO must investigate the loss.
  5. A sample BP-S111.044 Report of Survey is displayed in Appendix V [Not available electronically].
  6. The CEO is the head of the facility.  At correctional facilities, the Warden is the CEO.
  7. The Department’s OIG Investigations Division is now actively investigating the loss of this weapon.
  8. DOJ Order 2630.2A, Protecting and Controlling Federally Controlled Property and Loss/Theft Reporting Procedures (October 4, 1977).
  9. This report was not due before completion of our fieldwork.  In lieu of the semiannual report, the BOP Security Programs Manager provided us with reports from BOP facilities detailing losses and thefts for the period January 1, 2001, through June 30, 2001.  We included items listed in these reports in our review.