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Another PC with Veterans' Information Is Missing
CIO.com/IDG News Service
Grant Gross
August 8, 2006

A desktop PC containing the personal information of up to 36,000 U.S. military veterans has gone missing from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) subcontractor Unisys, the VA announced Monday.

The PC may have contained VA patients' names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, insurance carriers and billing information, dates of military service, and claims data that may include some medical information, the VA said. Unisys notified the VA on Thursday that the computer was missing from the subcontractor's Reston, Va., offices.

The VA immediately dispatched a team to Unisys to assist in the search for the computer and to help determine what information it held, the VA said in a press release.

The announcement comes after the VA said in late May that a laptop and hard drive containing the personal data of 26.5 million veterans and their spouses was stolen from a VA analyst's home. Police recovered the laptop and hard drive in late June, but the theft set off a series of hearings in the U.S. Congress about the VA's management and IT organization, with several lawmakers calling for an overhaul of the VA's decentralized IT reporting structure.

On Saturday, Montgomery County, Md., police announced they had arrested two Maryland men for the theft of the laptop and hard drive.

In the Unisys case, the VA believes the missing personal records belong to people who received treatment at the VA's two Pennsylvania medical centers during the past four years. The PC appears to have contained personal information for about 5,000 patients treated at Philadelphia and about 11,000 patients treated at Pittsburgh, and it may have also contained information from another 20,000 people treated at the VA's Pittsburgh medical center. The PC appears to have also contained information on about 2,000 deceased patients, the VA said.

The VA is working with Unisys to offer credit monitoring and individual notifications to potential victims, the VA said.

"VA is making progress to reform its information technology and cybersecurity procedures, but this report of a missing computer at a subcontractor's secure building underscores the complexity of the work ahead as we establish VA as a leader in data and information security," VA Secretary R. James Nicholson said in a statement.

By Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)

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