The Internal Revenue Service needs to do a better job of keeping track of the laptop computers issued to contractors, according to a new report.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, noted that during fiscal year 2014, more than 7,900 contractor employees terminated their employment with the IRS. Many of those contractors are issued laptops. When a contractor employee leaves the IRS, a contract administration official is responsible for ensuring that any laptop issued is returned to the agency. The official fills out a checklist documenting the release of the employee and the return of any government equipment, including laptops.

For its report, TIGTA reviewed a sample of 40 laptops used by contractor employees and found the contract administration documentation and computer inventory records only matched for 12 of the 40 laptops. For the rest of the laptops, the contract administration documentation differed from the computer inventory records.

“For example, IRS officials provided contract administration documentation showing three laptop computers were issued to contractor employees in TIGTA’s sample, but computer inventory records did not show laptop computers were ever assigned to the contractor employees,” said the report.

One of the reasons for those discrepancies is TIGTA could not find any guidance from the IRS for the time period it examined describing how contract administration officials should document the laptops they issue to contractor employees. Contract administration officials also did not always use the current forms, which require barcodes to document the return of the laptops.

After the time period examined in TIGTA’s sample, the IRS developed a training package that included requirements for contract administration officials to maintain a log of IRS-issued equipment in the contract file, including a description of the equipment issued, the barcode, the serial number, the date issued and the date returned.

TIGTA recommended the IRS strengthen its oversight of the laptops by updating its checklists and processes and training its employees to provide reasonable assurance that barcodes are properly documented for issuing laptops to contractor employees and getting the laptops back from the employees. The IRS should also develop a process for reviewing and comparing the contract administration documentation and computer inventory records, TIGTA suggested.

In response to the report, the IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations and said it plans to update its processes and checklists, as well as provide more training. In addition, the IRS plans to implement a process to compare and reconcile its contract administration documentation, contractor inventory lists and computer inventory records.

“The IRS is committed to having proper controls in place to monitor the issuance and return of laptop computers provided to contractor employees,” wrote IRS chief procurement officer Shanna R. Webbers in response to the report.

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