Audit finds 16 of 17 SRS Forest Service computers left unused

Friday, March 30, 2012 5:39 PM
Last updated 10:15 PM
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An audit by the Energy Department’s Inspector General suggests better oversight is needed for a program that allows the U.S. Forest Service office at Savannah River Site to buy computers and other equipment under an agreement with the Department of Energy.

The audit was initiated in response to a complaint last fall that the Forest Service office bought 17 new computers under an interagency pact, but only placed one of the machines into use.

Investigators found the remaining 16 computers still in their boxes — and stored in an unsecured location. Also, the report said, none of the machines had been recorded into the site’s property accountability system.

Forest Service officials told auditors the machines were left unused after it was determined it would cost $300 per month, per computer, to be linked into the site’s secured and integrated computer network. Since forestry officials wanted nothing more than email and standard internet, they opted not to install the computers.

According to the audit report, the Energy Department’s technology department already had a program in place to install and maintain such machines for a much lower cost, but that department was not consulted before the now-idled computers were selected and purchased.

Since the report, the two offices have established better communication and four of the 17 computers are now in use, a site spokesman said.

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