[ISN] More than 2,300 IRS computers missing

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Jan 10 2002 - 05:16:41 PST

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    Forwarded from: Jay D. Dyson <jdysonat_private>
    Courtesy of Rick Forno.
    (And we're supposed to feel safe...I wonder how many of those IRS systems
    had taxpayer's personal info on them?  I also have to ask: why does the
    IRS need guns while the government goes out of its way to disarm everyday
    01/08/2002 - Updated 03:02 PM ET
    More than 2,300 IRS computers missing
    WASHINGTON (AP) ‹ The Internal Revenue Service, which holds taxpayers
    strictly liable for accurate tax returns, is working to account for more
    than 2,300 computers that have gone missing over the past three years. 
    A recent Treasury Department audit was unable to determine whether the
    laptops and other small computers were lost, stolen or simply not properly
    documented. The IRS is reasonably sure that none contained sensitive
    taxpayer data or could provide a way for hackers to break into the tax
    agency's secure main computers. 
    IRS officials said Tuesday they are locating the computers, most of which
    are older than three years and would normally be replaced anyway. Toni
    Zimmerman, IRS chief of information technology services, said some were
    probably stolen or lost but that most were misplaced through bookkeeping
    "Over the course of events, they were coded wrong in the system,"
    Zimmerman said. 
    Still, a senior senator suggested that Congress require concrete
    improvements before approving more money for a long-term IRS computer
    systems upgrade. 
    "An agency that requires taxpayers to show every receipt can't find 2,300
    computers," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the
    Senate Finance Committee. "The IRS wouldn't accept from a taxpayer the
    nonanswer it has given." 
    In a letter dated Monday, Grassley asked Mitch Daniels, head of the White
    House Office of Management and Budget, to consider placing a hold on the
    IRS budget until the situation gets better. The IRS budget for fiscal 2002
    is $9.5 billion, and Congress has approved over $391 million through 2004
    for the computer modernization project. 
    The IRS got a positive opinion on its inventory controls last year from
    the congressional General Accounting Office and is determined to get
    better yet, Zimmerman said. 
    "We want to show that we are fiscally responsible and taxpayers should
    feel confident with our processes," she said. 
    The missing computers were uncovered by a Treasury inspector general
    during an audit late last year that also found six unaccounted-for IRS
    firearms and hundreds of lost investigative items such as badges and
    communications gear. 
    All told, auditors could not account for 2,332 laptops, microcomputers and
    microservers covering the period between October 1998 and Sept. 30, 2001. 
    The IRS had 163,000 computers total as of September. 
    IRS officials said they are working on a new system allowing the agency to
    discern between computers that are lost, stolen or damaged and improve its
    ability to investigate incidents of missing property. 
    Of the six missing guns, one was lost in an ocean boating accident and
    five were stolen from vehicles. Fifty communications devices, 40
    identification badges and 15 pieces of electronic surveillance gear were
    also reported missing, which auditors said "could compromise the public's
    safety or ongoing investigations." 
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