About 1,068 computers missing from SIU inventory lists

By Casey Bischel, Belleville News-Democrat

Two Southern Illinois University campuses could not locate 1,068 computers during an inventory search, according to the Auditor General.

An audit during the 2015 fiscal year revealed that the Edwardsville campus was missing 489 computers and the Carbondale campus was missing 579. The original value of the computers, which were, on average, nine years old and accounted for 3.6 percent of the total supply, was nearly $1.5 million.

University staff noticed the computers were missing in “a system-wide inventory cleanup effort … of approximately 226 buildings in Carbondale, Edwardsville, Alton and East St. Louis,” according to the audit. The search had been inspired by an even earlier audit that noted deficiencies in inventory record-keeping.

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The good news is that only 11 of the computers had been stolen. The rest just hadn’t been taken off the inventory rolls.

“Due to their age, it is believed that most items were discarded at the end of their useful life without completion of the proper paperwork to remove them from inventory,” wrote John Charles, the director for government and public affairs for SIU, in an email.

Auditors were also concerned about the deactivated computers’ security, as the university had an issue installing encryption software in the past, which put health, education and personal information at risk. Luckily, a university review of the missing machines failed to find that any confidential information had been stored on them.

SIU then located and encrypted more than 760 computers in its possession that contained sensitive information.

“We do not see this as a weakness over the control of inventory items,” Charles wrote, “rather there was a weaknesses in the annual inventory process that is carried out on each campus, as departmental staff were not always diligent in reporting items timely that were no longer in use.”

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