WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Marshals Service has lost track of about 2,000 encrypted two-way radios worth millions of dollars, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing internal records it had obtained through a public records request.
The paper reported that the problems date back to at least 2011, when the Marshals were deploying new versions of the radios to communicate in the field.
The Wall Street Journal said an internal technology office had warned about the issue, but the problems tracking the equipment persisted.
“It is apparent that negligence and incompetence has resulted in a grievous mismanagement of millions of dollars of USMS property,” the paper quoted a 2011 presentation by the agency’s Office of Strategic Technology as saying.
“Simply put, the entire system is broken and drastic measures need to be taken to address the issues … The 800 pound elephant in the room needs to finally be acknowledged.”
The U.S. Marshals Service serves to protect federal courts and judges. It also administers the witness protection program and tracks down fugitives.
In interviews with the paper, some Marshals told the Wall Street Journal they were worried not only about the wasted money, but also about the prospect of criminals getting hold of the radios and using them to gain access to privileged law enforcement activities.
A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service could not be immediately reached late on Sunday.
But in the Wall Street Journal, spokesman Drew Wade was quoted as saying the agency believes “this issue is in large part attributable to poor record keeping as a result of an older property-management system, as opposed to equipment being lost.”
He also said the Marshals Service is conducting an inventory and could not yet report how many items were missing or unaccounted for.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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