The U.S. Marshals Service's
Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers

Report No. 02-29
August 2002
Office of the Inspector General



The objectives of the audit were to review the USMSís:† (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 Property Office at USMS Headquarters.† We performed on-site audit work between August 2001 and January 2002 at the following locations:

Map of the U.S. showing the five locations of onsite audit work.  Southern District of California; Northern District of Illinois; Camp Beauregard, LA; FLETC, Glynco, GA; USMS HQ, Washington, D.C.

To examine the USMSís actions regarding the identification of lost and stolen weapons and laptop computers, we obtained a list of all such losses since October 1, 1999, and reviewed the available Board of Survey files and the circumstances surrounding each loss.† In addition, we obtained from the Department Security Officer the USMSís semiannual theft report submissions for the same time period.† For weapons, we also queried NCIC in November 2001 and February 2002 to determine if the loss had been reported and if the weapon had been subsequently recovered.†We also queried the National Tracing Center maintained by the ATF, for further indication 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.† This information is based upon the assertions provided; we could not independently verify the sensitivity of the information due to the loss of the machines.

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

We tested these controls through a judgmental sample from the 14,361 weapons and 1,450 laptop computers reported in ARGIS as of August 28, 2001.†In total, we reviewed 461 items -- 310 weapons and 151 laptop computers; the universe from which these samples were taken, by location, is detailed in Appendix IV, Table 1.† Our tests 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 17 USMS personnel separated between October 1, 1999 and August 28, 2001 to determine if all weapons and laptop computers were returned.†Moreover, we reviewed disposal actions initiated between October 1, 1999 and August 28, 2001 to ensure these actions were adequately supported.