The U.S. Marshals Service, or USMS, misplaced about 2,000 encrypted two-way radios worth a total of $6 million.
The agency told the Wall Street Journal that the "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.”
These problems date back to at least 2011 when Marshals began supplying new versions of the radio, according to internal records obtained by the Journal through a public records request.
This is not the first time the agency has mismanaged equipment. In 2011, the agency’s Office of Strategic Technology reported, "It is apparent that negligence and incompetence has resulted in a grievous mismanagement of millions of dollars of USMS property ... 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."
Some marshals claim they are concerned that criminals could obtain a missing radio and use it to spy on law enforcement. Marshals protect federal courts and judging, apprehend fugitives and administer the federal witness protection program.
USMS spokesman Drew Wade said the agency is doing a complete review of radio inventory.
"The U.S. Marshals Service is not aware of any instances where public safety was jeopardized as a result of this,” Wade said. “The USMS is currently in the process of acquiring a new property management system and intends to have it in place for the next fiscal year."