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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Agencies out grew their accountability

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Police in New Orleans have recovered a stolen handgun from the pocket of a murder victim. In Atlanta, police recovered a stolen weapon during a drug raid. In Philadelphia and Tampa, police recovered two handguns used to commit armed robberies. All of the recovered weapons were among 775 missing or stolen weapons from the FBI and DEA!

I full appreciate the mountain of paperwork and bureaucratic red-tape involved in the federal government but I am amazed to learn that the top law enforcement agencies in this nation have 775 weapons for which they can not account. Throw in 400 missing laptop computers and you have the making of a mess.

The primary source of these missing weapons is the FBI. With 15,000 laptops in service, perhaps missing 317 is not out of line. In our small business we too have missing equipment from time to time. But we're talking minor stuff here, not weapons.

It really makes you wonder how that amount of lethal hardware can be misplaced or lost or stolen. And when you realize that at least some of these weapons have made their way into the hands of criminals, it really makes you scratch your head.

The problem obviously has to do with the size of these massive federal agencies. I most certainly don't know the exact number but at some point organizations grow beyond the size of effective management. I believe that stands true for business and it is obviously true for the federal government. You can indeed reach a size where any real management is unrealistic. It grows to a point where it actually just runs itself. And that opens the door to abuse - as we've seen - or mishaps such as missing weapons.

It's painfully clear that additional accountability is needed in these and all federal agencies. But what we don't need is yet another commission or committee to investigate these disappearances. Just downsize to a more manageable unit size and start all over. Don't look for that to happen however.

It's no wonder we're collectively worried about missing nuclear secrets or potential weapons of mass destruction. If we can't seem to control something as simple as a handgun assigned to a federal employee, then anything is possible. Now doesn't that make you sleep soundly tonight.

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