Audit: ATF lost track of at least 31,000 rounds of ammunition (VIDEO)

A government watchdog said Monday the Department of Justice should do a better job keeping track of ammunition after a routine audit uncovered “significant deficiencies” in the current system.

Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the DOJ, said an audit of 13 sites operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives between 2014 and 2017 “understated” its ammo inventory by a minimum of 31,000 rounds.

“Given that the ATF has over 275 offices, the number of unaccounted ammunition rounds is likely much higher,” he said. “When inventories are inaccurate, there is increased risk that ammunition may be lost, stolen, or misplaced without detection.”

Horowitz added the results prove “particularly concerning” given the agency’s history of problems tracking ammo dating back 15 years.

“The 2002 Treasury OIG audit found that ATF had limited written policies regarding controls over ammunition, no standard recordkeeping, and no ammunition inventories,” the report said. “As a result of that audit, ATF implemented new policies that required its offices to maintain documentation to track increases and decreases in ammunition inventories and the reasons for the changes in quantity, as well as the current balance.”

A 2008 audit revealed, however, the ATF failed to enforce its own policies regarding ammo tracking — a problem that persists today.

“In summary, we found that ATF did not maintain a current balance of all rounds of ammunition on hand,” the report said. “This issue was further impacted by the fact that several sites were comingling (sic) loose rounds of different types of the same caliber of ammunition and none of the sites tracked inventories of ammunition used for test-fire and demonstration purposes.”

The Office of Inspector General provided 10 recommendations for improving inventory controls. ATF Assistant Director of Field Operations Marino Vidoli concurred with the suggested improvements, including enforcing existing policies regarding ammo tracking and no longer comingling rounds.

Horowitz didn’t deliver all bad news to the agency, however. In the three years studied during the audit process, the ATF reported 26 instances of special agents losing or stealing firearms — a “substantial improvement” Horowitz said over the last review conducted a decade ago. The agency seizes roughly 23,000 weapons each year, according to the report.

“We determined that the monthly rate of loss decreased by over 55 percent since a prior 2008 OIG audit, but was still higher than the rate in a 2002 Treasury OIG audit,” the report concludes.

Latest Reviews