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US State Dept. Loses Anti-Terrorist Program Laptops

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the around-here-someplace-gimme-a-minute dept.

Security 223

Stony Stevenson writes "It has surfaced that the US State Department can't account for up to about 1,000 laptops, perhaps as many as 400 of which belonged to the department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program. Internal auditors found that the department lost track of $30 million worth of computer equipment, 'the vast majority of which... perhaps as much as 99 percent,' were laptops, according to one official. Another official calculated that the average State Department laptop costs US$3,000 and figured that meant as many as 1,000 laptops might be astray — not 10,000 laptops as the US$30 million figure suggests. They're obviously not very good at maths."

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223 comments

Blame Iran (5, Funny)

Trigun (685027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328728)

They're using them and a bunch of XBoxes to create a supercomputer possible of calculating what wacky thing the president is going to do next.

Re:Blame Iran (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328928)

Probably just reminding him when to breath. And generating random numbers which he'll use to decide which country to blame for terrorism next.

Re:Blame Iran (4, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329312)

They're using them and a bunch of XBoxes to create a supercomputer possible of calculating what wacky thing the president is going to do next.
I think the word is spelled "stuporcomputer"

In Soviet America (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329696)

Anti-terror laptops lose U.S.!

Re:Blame Iran (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329336)

They're using them and a bunch of XBoxes to create a supercomputer possible of calculating what wacky thing the president is going to do next.

Bogus -- no computer is capable of calculating THAT irrationally.....

XBoxes? (1)

number6x (626555) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329718)

the XBoxes are running a modified version of Windows ME that is running Microsoft Bob in an emulator.

When they come out with the Vista version they will be able to model the behavior of Congress.

By using the most irrational OS it is easy to emulate the politician's irrational behavior.

Re:Blame Iran (3, Funny)

stuporglue (1167677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329576)

Whos president, theirs or ours?

Re:Blame Iran (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329578)


They're using them and a bunch of XBoxes to create a supercomputer possible of calculating what wacky thing the president is going to do next.


Knowing the failure rate of xbox 360s 10% of them will get the ring of death.

How many Ferrari.... (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328732)

laptops it is?

I mean, seriously :)

Who they want to fool?

Why don't they handcuff the laptops to the users? (3, Funny)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328742)

Seems like that is the most effective thing right now.

great... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328752)

now they have to scrap the whole program and start from scratch thanks to poor training and human error.

your multi-billion dollar system is rendered useless by one incompetent employee.

Re:great... (1)

certain death (947081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329748)

Sounds to me more like a WHOLE SHIT LOAD of incompetent employees! How about we hold someone responsible like they would in the Corporate world...how much did they lose on Enron?, does this compare? In my opinion it does, just because it was negligent does not make it ok. GEEEZUS!!

All these guys do all day is download porn (1)

nokilli (759129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328786)

So it figures we'd be out a few laptops, yes?

Why does any of this shit surprise people today?

eBay? (4, Funny)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328794)

I would give eBay a try to find them out!

Re:eBay? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329076)

"0 items found for: laptop anti-terror"

damn

Re:eBay? (2, Insightful)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329486)

I'd try employee house visits.

Math issues resolved (5, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328798)

Obviously the problem is in assuming that all of the laptops were "worth" the same. Actually, there were 999 laptops that the government paid about $1,000 each for, which had important documents containing SSNs, medical and employment records, etc of every single person in the united states who was not a member of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as various secret anti-terrorist initiatives, identities of government moles working within terrorist groups and so on, totaling a value of about $999,000.

The other $29,001,000 is due to the loss of one laptop containing the SSN and medical records of the director of the Department of Homeland Security.

Re:Math issues resolved (1)

electrostatic (1185487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328940)

$30,000,000 / 1000 laptops = $30,000 per laptop. A mere few seconds in Iraq.

Re:Math issues resolved (2, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329090)

Actually, an hour and 40 minutes, for the whole bunch.

Re:Math issues resolved (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329404)

So a bunch of soldiers watching "Dodgeball" costs you guys thirty mill?

Re:Math issues resolved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329400)

More than likely the Math error is in assuming that the 29 million difference and the inflated pricing on the missing laptops accounts for the 30 million total.

The most probable answer is that 1 million was used for the 1000 laptops, if toilet seats are 10,000 each just imagine what a laptops costs.

And the remaining 29 Million is going to some communist loving " Freedom fighter " we are supporting to over throw one of the 100's of country's our government thinks we cannot control properly.

trollkorE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328824)

look at the neW core is going out of business Irrecoverable BE NIGGER! BE GAY! AMERICA) might be

Clearly there's only one thing left to do... (3, Funny)

Starturtle (1148659) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328832)

Call in Jack Bauer, I'm sure he'll have them back within 24 hours.

Nah. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328914)

You want Captain Jack, from Torchwood. Y'know, the world's mot famous secret organization, beyond the government, outside the United Nations, second left over the flyover, straight on at Budgens, first right at the lights then first left at the Kwiksave. He should have them back before they were taken.

$3000? (1)

zegota (1105649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328842)

What the hell kind of souped up Alienware laptops are the State Department using that cost $3000 each?

Re:$3000? (2, Informative)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328900)

They were probably Dell D6X0 series laptops with encrypted hard drives. Getting a basic one right now (1GB RAM, 1.73GHz Dual-Core Processor, Encrypted Hard Drive) _would_ cost me about $1,100 if I could buy direct from Dell, but thanks to 8(a) contract purchasing obligation, it'd run me over $2,500 from the reseller (who adds zero benefit). Aren't you glad we're supporting small, disadvantaged, minority, woman-owned businesses at the cost of your (and my) tax dollars?

Re:$3000? (4, Interesting)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329114)

Aren't you glad we're supporting small, disadvantaged, minority, woman-owned businesses at the cost of your (and my) tax dollars?

Yep sounds like my old company of 20 people doing contracts for the government. The President and VP co owned the company... guess who was the president: the minority woman. Guess who did most of the contact establishment, contract negotiation, and assembled the technical know how, and basically ran the company... the white bread male VP. She was useless, and started to get bitter when she began to realize this. Not saying this is a reflection of her nationality or sex, just that she was nothing more than a figurehead for the company so we could get more contracts.

Re:$3000? (1)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329172)

Typical. Not to pry, but are they still around / you still on good terms with them? It's stories like this that I hate to hear, and nobody bothered reporting the folks who pull this stuff. Hefty fines and loss of 8a status await people who use that kind of loophole.

Re:$3000? (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329264)

Only if they say it was a loophole. Plenty of presidents delegate to their VPs and staff... Its kind of what a company president "should" do.

I mean, how many ex politicians become CEOs as figureheads because their names are well known, and spend their days flying to exotic locations for "meetings" and sampling the flight stewardess' thighs.

Re:$3000? (1)

boris111 (837756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329500)

Like a lot of people in government positions she was good at justifying her usefulness to people that mattered. I still care too much about everyone else at the company (including the VP) to narc them out. Who knows maybe she did her work in a capacity that was transparent to me.

Re:$3000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329516)

They were probably Dell D6X0 series laptops with encrypted hard drives.
Not a chance with the encrypted hard drive. The regs are clear: If the hard drive of a lost/stolen laptop is encrypted, you don't have to report it, it just becomes something that property management writes off and no ones the wiser.

Re:$3000? (1)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329020)

Assume that price includes all the pre-installed software - including all appropriate CALs for everything MSFT was able to persuade (via campaign contributions to Congresscritters) the State Department they would need at the "special" taxpayer funded purchase price.

Re:$3000? (2, Informative)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329372)

Don't forget warranties and service contracts and markups from resellers... it's easy to tip $3k a laptop if you try.

Re:$3000? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329432)

Dell M70/M90s easily make this mark, and work well as desktop/laptop machines. They also get far, far better tech support than the regular laptops. It's still probably a waste, but if you consider how bad the internal tech support is, and that in the government you have to have incriminating pictures of someone with farm animals to get anything upgraded, you realize that you order as much as you can when you get the chance.

Filed away accidentally? (4, Funny)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328848)

Were they MacBook Airs? Perhaps they're stuck inside some manila envelopes.

$3000 for a laptop?? (4, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328886)

A state department laptop costs an average of $3000? That's completely insane! No (non-gaming) laptop costs that much unless you're just trying to burn money. This further reduces my faith in the abilities of the national government (and makes me feel really great about my taxes). =/

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (4, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328972)

I presume that price includes software, created by government contractors at high price for a specific purpose, divided amongst the few thousand computers that have it installed.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (4, Informative)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329378)

I presume that price includes software, created by government contractors at high price for a specific purpose, divided amongst the few thousand computers that have it installed.

Software would be a part of the purchase price, but not the calculation of the value of the lost property.

After all, software is licensed not bought. When a computer gets lost, they still have the license, right? It's not like they have repurchase the same software for the replacement computers.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329680)

It's not like they have repurchase the same software for the replacement computers.


Haven't dealt with Microsoft lately, have we?

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328994)

Oh... you forget that it has to bought through a small, disadvantaged, disabled, minority, female-owned businesses... that happens to be related to one of the directors.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329010)

There are some Sony VAIOs and high-end ThinkPads (a few really high-end T series models and a few more X series models, especially "t" and "s" variety) that cost even more and definitely aren't gaming laptops, but no one buys them just like that, especially the TPs, they are more of a special-purpose tool than a typical laptop and are usually bought because someone actually needs them.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (3, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329228)

Actually these were special DHS laptops with the ultimate security feature:
An ultraslick teflon outer coating to prevent the employees from writing down their automatically generated 16 letter+capital+number+special changing once a month passwords on sticky notes and glue them to the notebook.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (4, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329048)

This further reduces my faith in the abilities of the national government (and makes me feel really great about my taxes). =/


If you got all of your money by stealing it from people, I don't think you would care too much about wasting some of that money.
In government, where is the incentive to not waste money?

MOD PARENT UP (3, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329296)

I was about to reply with the same thing. This is yet another example of why it is ridiculous to say it is better to "just let the government handle it". Not only is there no incentive to be cost-effective, secure, OR efficient, but the exact opposite becomes the case - government employees get their jobs through friends and family, ie cronyism, so because they did not need to prove their competence to get their jobs, there is also no incentive for them to be competent in their positions.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329502)

This is yet another example of why it is ridiculous to say it is better to "just let the government handle it"

You are correct. In some cases. But only a blind fool would believe that's universally true.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (0)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329470)

And as far as I can tell, wasting money is one of the best things they can do with it.

In this case, it's going to computer programmers... How is that bad?

Or computer makers like Dell (Some of you probably work for them)...

And from there back into the economy.

I know there are a lot of ways to look at it, but government waste isn't all bad. It's only a real problem when it goes to bad contractors through under-the-table deals, even then the money quickly filters back into society at large.

Money is only valuable when it moves, so the only bad thing you can do with money (economy-wise) is not spend it. Taxing and re-cycling the money helps as far as I can tell. The more progressive the taxes, the more likely they are to pull money back into the economy.

Okay, it's o/t, but no moreso than the parent.

Broken Window Fallacy (5, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329580)

The parable of the broken window [wikipedia.org] might be of interest to you as to why this is a bad idea.

You are saying "it is ok to steal from people if that money is going to be used to buy other things", right?

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329054)

Three hindred dollar hammers and you complain about laptops?

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

Ai Olor-Wile (997427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329058)

The larger and more public-sector the entity, the more expensive things get; doubly so if the entity in question is a national government in North America. Yes, the laptops would have cost $1000 each to private citizens, but they would have cost an insurance company $2000 for the exact same product and the US government $3000. Apparently, selling to the government puts emotional hardship on vendors such that they are compelled to quietly scam as much money out of those agencies as possible; I've been told this happens with things as diverse as building renovations and wheelchairs as well. There is no concrete basis for such a price hike, of course, but, you know, with the US being a free country and all... why not?

It's simple supply and demand (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329158)

Large organisations like to restrict the numbers of their suppliers as far as possible, this means there is little or no competition for vendors, who are then able to charge as they like.

I don't know which MBA came up with that concept, but there you go.

 

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (5, Funny)

rujholla (823296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329190)

Ya but we feel confident that they can do a good job with health care!!

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329210)

And all they were using them for was to type "turban" or a racist synonym in to a Google Images search!

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329320)

As a scientist working for a US-government research lab, these stories make me die a bit inside.

Where I work, we are very budget conscious. We could never justify spending $3000 on laptops. In fact we have to make a very solid case before we can get our desktops upgraded to even modern commodity levels (despite the fact that, as you might guess, we do plenty of work that pushes a desktop machine to its limits). Moreover, we have a very strict inventory system. All equipment (including computers) is accounted for, and has to be barcode-scanned annually to make sure it's still accounted for. Even computers that are so old no one would want them are still meticulously tracked.

I always assumed that this was standard for government agencies... but I guess some agencies are able to bend and break these rules more wantonly than others. It makes me sad to think of the wastage in one branch when we are diligently following the rules, and barely scraping by, in another...

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329328)

Maybe they decided to get Macs.

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329364)

i bet they really spent $300 each on 10,000 OLPCs, can you imagine the noise that'd make when they all mesh together?

Re:$3000 for a laptop?? (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329442)

"No (non-gaming) laptop costs that much unless you're just trying to burn money."

Itronix and Panasonic semi-rugged and rugged units routinely cost far more than that.

Where to find the thieves (1)

themushroom (197365) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328892)

If you see anyone who looks like this [slashdot.org] then the laptops have fallen into the wrong hands.

Sorry, had to do it. :)

Laptops so easy to move around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328898)



so easy to lose

Re:Laptops so easy to move around (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329272)

So easy to trade for drugs.

It was me (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328912)

I msut admit, I took all the anti-terrorist laptops and sold them to my good buddy, Usama.

This is by design! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328958)

This is actually part of the State Department's Anti-Terrorism Anti-Assistance Program.

The laptops are equipped with lojacks that they hope will trace back to Osama himself.

Oops, my bad (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328968)

The guy said he was a drug dealer down on his luck. Now I understand why it had these pictures [slashdot.org] in it.

I smoked a joint and got all paranoid and shit and threw it in Lake Springfield. Sorry.

Things to keep in mind... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328974)

1) They've only done one pass of their inventory. Once this has become public, the supervisors will get pushed on from their bosses to make sure that more equipment is accounted for in the second and third passes.

2) The reason that many of these laptops are listed as worth ~$3,000 is probably that some of them are 10+ years old (when laptops were really really expensive). That also explains why some of them can't be found; they're shoved in the back of filing cabinets or in the bottom of desk-drawers because they haven't been used in years and years. Their practical value is probably nothing, but -- on paper -- they're worth thousands because that's what they were bought for all those years ago...

Re:Things to keep in mind... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329144)

So much for depreciation.

Re:Things to keep in mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329398)

Uh, doesn't the government do accounting the same way as every business does - that is, you take into account that the value of assets depreciates with time. Usually the factor with which you lower the value for every year is higher for computers and such than it is for machinery that doesn't lose its value that quickly.

Note: I could be wrong simply because I'm thinking of how businesses do it and they do calculate profits unlike the government does. And businesses of course write off the value as much as possible so that the profit they pay taxes on is smaller. That is, depreciation is an "expense" - laymen often believe that the purchase of assets is an expense but obviously it isn't since in return for the money spent, you get assets of the same value and only the depreciation of their value is an expense.

Papertrails (3, Interesting)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23328984)

I haven't worked for the government ever asides from working as an intern for a local County government's IT department, so I really don't know the answer to this.

What in the world happens with these things as far as papertrails go? This question comes to mind every time they "lose" weapons or laptops. Isn't there anyone that has their name on these items as being responsible? Surely either the shipping departments, the departments that they were assigned to, or the people that they were assigned to could be held responsible right?

I imagine for example that in moving of large arms shipments around the Middle East for our troops that there's someone always in charge of the stuff, or that last touched it. Wouldn't a great place to start (and place the blame) be the last person that signed off on something like this? In anything bigger than a really tiny company, there should be very clear paper trails like this right?

Doesn't someone have to answer? Isn't it the auditors job to know who last touched them?

Re:Papertrails (1)

Incadenza (560402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329382)

I imagine for example that in moving of large arms shipments around the Middle East for our troops that there's someone always in charge of the stuff, or that last touched it. Wouldn't a great place to start (and place the blame) be the last person that signed off on something like this? In anything bigger than a really tiny company, there should be very clear paper trails like this right?
Well, if you are stoopid enough to place your ballistic missile parts in the unclassified storage room, and then accidentally ship them to Taiwan [cnn.com] , then you will have no problems at all with losing a few latops.

Re:Papertrails (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329430)

I work as a scientist for a US-government research lab.

Where I work, we have an elaborate tracking system. Every piece of equipment has an inventory number and a barcode. We have to reconcile the inventory at least yearly, which involves people walking around and scanning in each item. Any missing items (or even relocated items) have to be found. There is a special procedure for throwing out any tracked item. The whole system is actually a bit of a pain, but stories like this make me realize why these inventory systems are necessary (especially when using taxpayer money).

I'm assuming that this inventory tracking is a government-wide rule. In which case, only massive incompetence or corruption would enable someone to misplace millions of dollars of equipment. Where I work, the tracking is very diligent, and misplacing even a single computer is a "big deal" and involves mass-emailing, checking records, and tracking until the asset is recovered.

So, there *should* be a very clear paper-trail to figure out where these items last were, and who was responsible for tracking them. But of course, some agencies actually follow the rules, whereas (apparently) others do not.

Re:Papertrails (2, Interesting)

anmida (1276756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329482)

Having worked at a national lab for a bit, I can attest that accountability of items is FUBAR. They're pretty good at some things, like chemical inventory (can't let the terrorists steal our stuff...our 10 grams of stuff...and blow us up with it!) They are pretty horrible at some other things, though. The lab I was at actually undertook a program of reducing "extraneous" laptops and other electronic storage devices that were no longer necessary. The reason a lot of things go unaccounted for is that getting rid of them is such a PITA that no one ever does... and it slinks off to a dark corner of the office, never to be found again, or something else of that nature. For example, my boss gave me an ancient laptop to use that he should have gotten rid of, but there was no paperwork to say that it was actually loaned to me - it was still in his name. Considering the size of governmet organizations, that type of thing can multiply quickly into thousands of misaccounted items.

Re:Papertrails (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329534)

A decade ago, it cost $100 for someone to touch a part (widget) in a government contract production environment. That accounts for the paper, time, overhead, profit, etc. involved with simply certifying that a particular part was in a particular place at a particular time. Now, a $3000 laptop may seem like an item worth tracking, but if you figure that most employees can't do any amount of work without one (including answering an email), most laptops are less likely to get lost until they are no longer used. Sure, you could check it in and check it out every day, but the "cost" of such tracking would quickly eclipse the cost of the laptop.

No, its more likely that they simply couldn't track down some of the inventory, and there's no check-in/check-out system to determine where it might be if it's not where the property inventory tag database says it should be. Oh, and if its like a normal gov't installation, the prop inventory tag is based on what office it started in 4 years ago when it was bought, and has never been updated over the 3-8 typical office moves a govt employee goes through in that time frame.

Re:Paper trails (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329614)

One of my friends works for the U.S. Army as an engineer. He used to work at a base here in town, until they decommissioned that facility and offered their employees jobs at one in another state.

Anyway, I remember years ago, him telling me about all the extra/unused computer equipment they had sitting in storage, on-site. There was a lot of "office politics" going on all the time, where somebody in charge would "mandate" that the whole division use a specific operating system version, or specific version of an application. Then, many of the users, finding that very inefficient and unreasonable, would find ways around the order. Sometimes, you'd have such things as an old Novell Netware LAN that a group used exclusively, despite an order it be replaced with a Windows Server and Win2K workstations (or whatever). They'd just run BOTH setups in tandem, so they could get "business as usual" done without disruption, but show they met the "requirements" if anyone checked on them.

It sounded like a lot of the "surplus" equipment resulted from these "orders from above" and changes in command. (EG. Some of the old, duplicate equipment in use might finally be "retired" when new people took charge of a dept. and forced everyone to change and ditch the old configuration.)

Anyway, because of all of this, I think a lot of equipment wound up not having documentation on who it belonged to, or who was responsible for it. (Again, if you were going against the command of a superior officer and hanging onto hardware and/or software they said you needed to stop using - you weren't likely to want your name attached to it when it suddenly showed up in storage, 1 or 2 years after the orders were to "upgrade" all of that stuff, right?)

Re:Papertrails (1)

omnipresentbob (858376) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329770)

Even if someone was responsible, chances are they'd just get promoted.

For example, a coworker was telling me about a supervisor she had. Didn't show up at all to work. What happened? She got hired somewhere else, with a pay raise, and a glowing review from her boss.

Why? Because it's easier to pass someone to some other place than to fire them (paper work, have to document their ineptitude, etc. etc.).

The lady that didn't show up at all, at her new job, somehow managed to embed hundreds/thousands of SSNs in an email she sent out to a student body. Wasn't fired for that, either.

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23328996)

Maybe someone built a Beowulf cluster out of them?

Government accounting (5, Funny)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329000)

Cost of laptop: $3000

Cost of personnel to procure it, insurance, shipping, paperwork, legislation, research, etc on a per-item basis: $8000

Total cost in taxes, per laptop, to you: $11000

Cost of laptop, out of back of 10-year-old SUV with motor running, on street, from some guy named Joey with methamphetamine acne: $400

Re:Government accounting (4, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329086)

They are obviously ordering the laptops from the wrong vendor.

Re:Government accounting (2, Funny)

Mr_Reaper (231387) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329156)

you forgot the lobster dinners for all the managers & vendors...

Re:Government accounting (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329754)

Cost of laptop: $3000

Cost of personnel to procure it, insurance, shipping, paperwork, legislation, research, etc on a per-item basis: $8000

Total cost in taxes, per laptop, to you: $11000

Cost of laptop, out of back of 10-year-old SUV with motor running, on street, from some guy named Joey with methamphetamine acne: $400
Value of data on unencrypted drives: Priceless.

We need new Math Textbooks (4, Funny)

captainjamie (956435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329006)

They're obviously not very good at maths

9/11 changed everything... even multiplication.

Re:We need new Math Textbooks (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329356)

Accidently modded you overrated, meant to mod funny, posting to undo wrong moderation.

Re:We need new Math Textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329588)

Is 9/11 the "platinum ratio" (much better and improved over than the golden one)? Those Americans and their numerology (and statistics).

Much Ado About Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329142)

Oh yeah, like you *never* misplaced your cell phone, or anything.

The should buy their own fucking laptops (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329160)

Then they wouldn't go missing.

More stupid gov spending.

 

And this is why it's important... (1)

gnuASM (825066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329174)

...for proper communications between federal agencies. Obviously, these laptops were searched and confiscated at the border by customs officers for child pr0n.

Time to revive the old dumb terminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329214)

It's clear that employees are unable to manage the security of locally-stored data.

Beowulf Cluster? (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329216)

Now do you think someone, somewhere, has a Beowulf cluster going?

Identity theft (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329274)

So now the terrorists need to check if their identity's been stolen?

Auditors?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329276)

Internal auditors found ..

Whoa, whoa, I had to stop reading right there. Auditors?! What kind of freedom-hater would audit the people who are protecting us from the terrorists?

I say we fire the accountants and their childish demands for .. um .. accountability. Freedom should be messy! Looters in Iraq, bargain laptop resellers in America -- it's all good.

Who is using these in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329346)

If the fact that they were missing was only discovered in an "audit," maybe the Department is getting too much money and buying too many laptops in the first place that go unused, and then unnoticed when they disappear.

Equipment tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329422)

If they can't keep track of a bunch of laptops, how long do you think it will be before one of the Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractors are unaccounted for, and on the street? Talk about making Windows obsolete!!!

This is the government you want to run healthcare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329438)

I "hope" you people get a reality check and "change" your minds...

Not a problem! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329444)

They can just use the laptops they confiscate from everyone else at the border.

http://www.eff.org/cases/us-v-arnold

SURE... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329448)

HAND HEALTH CARE OVER TO THEM, HA aha h aha aha aha aha ah aha aha ha aha ahhha hh aha ha ah aaaaaah ha aha aha aha hh haha aha haa hh h cough cough

ha aha aha ah aha aha aha haa ha aha

They, the govt do 3 things well-
death
taxes
laws

      All of which amounts to death tax laws in addition to the 3 in some poetic form of dysfunctional govt.

wow (1)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329488)

Yet another reason not to pay taxes.

Bush/Cheney incompetent (0)

wshwe (687657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329504)

Bush/Cheney State Department is incompetent!

I see, someone started... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329574)

...One Laptop Per Terrorist program.

RTF-Source-Article for this to make sense (3, Informative)

Plautius (626357) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329636)

The $30M number is bogus, it includes a lot of other stuff.

This whole article is sourced from a blog called "Dead Men Working" which is focused on venting the frustrations diplomatic foreign service officers about their problems with getting security clearance from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; coincidentally the group alleged to have lost the laptops. So take the article with a grain of salt.

Also, the blog reported yesterday that the laptops were all found and accounted for. So, really, nothing to see here.

The "Dead Men Working" blog is really interesting reading though. http://www.deadmenworking.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

How are they bad at math? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329642)

Hmmm...posting this as an AC for fear of flames, but...

Another official calculated that the average State Department laptop costs US$3,000 and figured that meant as many as 1,000 laptops might be astray -- not 10,000 laptops as the US$30 million figure suggests.
Okay, I don't understand this:
$3 000 / laptop * 1 000 laptops = $3 000 000
$3 000 / laptop * 10 000 laptops = $30 000 000

How does the new, inflated ($3000 per laptop?!? Why?!?) price mean there are only 1000 laptops missing, unless there's data that I'm missing? The conclusion doesn't seem to follow the premise.

Now, if this other State Dept official had calculated the average laptop to cost thirty thousand dollars, I would see how that makes "only" 1000 missing laptops...

Seriously, is this a case of bad arithmetic, or bad journalism?

It should be 10000 ... not 1000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329674)

3,000*10,000=30,000,000 ... SO it has to be 10,000 and not 1,000.
3,000*1,000=3,000,000 ... which is 3 Million.!

Typical Government Response (1)

ninjapiratemonkey (968710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23329678)

If the missing ones might have contained classified data, this could be serious.
Typical of them to be so vague on what the contents of the laptops are.

Maths (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23329734)

They're obviously not very good at maths
And somebody is obviously not very good at englishes.
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