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The Drug Enforcement Administration's
Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers

Report No. 02-28
August 2002
Office of the Inspector General



The objectives of the audit were to review the DEA’s:  (1) action taken in response to the identification of lost or stolen weapons and laptop computers, and (2) management controls over these types of equipment.  We performed our audit in accordance with Government Auditing Standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States and, accordingly, included such tests of the records and procedures that we considered necessary.

We obtained an understanding of the control environment for weapons and laptop computers from the Firearms Training Unit at Quantico and the Property Unit at DEA headquarters.  We performed on-site work between August 2001 and December 2001 at the following locations:

To examine the DEA’s actions regarding the identification of lost and stolen weapons and laptop computers, we requested lists of all such losses from October 1, 1999 to September 15, 2001, and reviewed the available Board of Professional Conduct files and the circumstances surrounding each loss.  In addition, we obtained from the Department Security Officer the DEA’s semiannual Department Theft Report submissions from October 1999 to December 2001.  For weapons, we also queried the National Crime Information Center system in November 2001 to determine if the losses had been reported and if the weapons subsequently had been recovered.  We also queried the National Tracing Center maintained by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for further indications of weapon recoveries through subsequent law enforcement activity.

For laptop computers, our objective was to determine if the loss resulted in the compromise of classified or sensitive information, which if divulged could lead to public harm.  However, we were unable to perform this test for laptop computers.  The DEA was still performing a reconciliation of FAS data following the conversion of data from the M-204 system and we could not obtain a perpetual list of lost, missing, or stolen laptop computers. The DEA has since informed us that the reconciliation is complete and that 229 laptop computers are unaccounted for.

In addition to the testing detailed above, our work included: (1) reviews of applicable laws, policies, regulations, manuals, and memoranda; (2) interviews of appropriate personnel; (3) tests of management controls; (4) reviews of property and accounting records, with an emphasis on activity since October 1, 1999; and (5) physical inspections of property.  Tests of management controls were performed in the following areas as they pertained to weapons and laptop computers:

We tested controls through a judgmental sample from the 15,000 weapons and 6,000 laptop computers reported in the FAS, TEIS, and Weapons Database as of November 15, 2001.  In total, we reviewed 392 items – 208 weapons and 184 laptop computers.  The universe from which these samples were taken, by location, is detailed in Appendix IV, Table 1.  Our test included sampling:

The samples described above are delineated by test, property type, and location, in Appendix IV, Tables 2 through 4.  We also reviewed the documentation related to personnel separations between October 1, 1999, and November 15, 2001, to determine if all weapons and laptop computers were returned.  Moreover, we reviewed disposal actions initiated between October 1, 1999 and November 15, 2001 to ensure these actions were adequately supported.