Treasury needs more reliable system to track computers, IG says

Three Treasury Department agencies need to conduct more reliable inventories of their computers to better guard against loss or theft, according to reports by Treasury's inspector general.

The IG reports, released earlier this fall, were based on interviews with managers and evaluations of inventory procedures from February to August at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Financial Management Service and Bureau of Public Debt.

The agencies check their inventory at least once a year to make sure all computers are accounted for (or reported missing). But at two of the agencies, stockroom employees who have daily responsibility for overseeing the property conduct the audits, making the results less reliable than if an independent auditor completed the check, the report (OIG-02-119) concluded. The Bureau of Public Debt uses independent auditors, but until recently, the agency's audit review process was not independent.

" 'Key duties and responsibilities need to be divided or segregated among different people to reduce the risk of error or fraud,'" said the IG report (GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1), citing a November 1999 General Accounting Office report on the federal government's internal control standards. "The strongest control employed by leading-edge locations was to exclude those with asset custody from the counting activity," according to the report.

The Treasury IG also looked at the Office of Thrift Supervision's computer inventory methods, and concluded the agency's methods were reliable. OTS uses an automated tracking system for its annual inventory review. Computer identification numbers are scanned into the system and any missing computers are reported to the appropriate office for investigation, according to the report.

The other agencies included in the audit agreed with the IG's recommendations and said they would begin scheduling independent audits and reviews this fall. Financial Management Service spokeswoman Alvina McHale said the changes would be implemented by June 2004 at the latest.

The IG report praised the agencies for developing written policies for employees on the proper management and safekeeping of computers, saying the policies helped ensure accountability and deter theft. And all agencies took appropriate steps to prevent sensitive or classified information that may have been stored on approximately 80 computers stolen or lost from fiscal years 1999 to 2001 from falling into the wrong hands, according to the report.

The agencies also made sure that employees attended annual security training sessions and could only access sensitive or classified information with a password, so that outsiders could not break into the system and pose a security threat should a computer be lost and fall into the wrong hands.

In addition, the agencies required employees to clear classified data off hard drives before throwing the computers out or transferring them to anybody without a password to access the classified information.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.