$22M Worth of CDC Equipment Disappears

Investigators suspect that an insider heist is behind millions of dollars worth of computers and equipment that are missing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports it cannot account for $22 million worth of computers and other equipment, according to a July 12 story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Thievery is suspected behind some of the missing gear. According to news reports, the Inspector Generals office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will investigate the loss and will look into procedures and allegations of theft, at the request of a congressional oversight committee that reported "troubling" findings in June.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is reportedly concerned specifically about a suspected insider burglary of $500,000 in new computers. Since the Atlanta-based agency was last audited in 1995, there have also reportedly been millions of dollars worth of other items missing or unaccounted for.

28571.gif

Read here about how to react when laptops are stolen.

"A thorough audit will help stop the bleeding of taxpayer-owned property at CDC," said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) in a prepared statement. Barton is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "In cases of theft, it will also tell us what happened to the thieves."

A sizable portion of the loss appears to boil down to sheer sloppiness. CDC officials told news outlets that they have accounted for about $9 million of the $22 million in missing goods after tracking down lost items and improving accountability.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Inspector General Daniel Levinson wrote to Barton on June 25 to tell him that his office will audit CDCs controls over property, including laptops and scientific equipment, and "determine whether CDC has adequately implemented the recommendations in the prior report. We will separately investigate the allegations [you] identified."

A CDC spokesman told the AJC that there have been 61 investigations into theft or disappearance of the agencys equipment between fiscal 2004 and 2006, but that none of those investigations resulted in arrest or disciplinary action.

Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.