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Records of D.C.'s abused, elderly and disabled found at risk

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Local,Alan Suderman

Sensitive information of some of the District's must vulnerable residents, including abused and neglected elderly and disabled citizens, was left in a haphazard and unsecured mess at a city office, the D.C. inspector general has found.

The District's Adult Protective Services division is tasked with "investigating reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of frail, elderly and disabled adults," according to the inspector general's report.

But the APS's case files -- which include clients' statements, Social Security numbers, health records, and the names of those who reported abuse -- were left "unorganized lying on unattended desks, in open boxes, and in carts waiting to filed" in a storage room," the IG found.

Past problems  

»  October 2009: IG reports that police department was not properly safeguarding juvenile arrest and child abuse records.

»  May 2009: IG reports that D.C. personnel office kept private information of more than 30,000 employees in unlocked filing cabinets, and in an easily accessible copy room.

»  May 2009: Personal information of 1,250 applicants for tuition assistance attached to an e-mail sent to other applicants.

»  June 2006: Laptop owned by financial services firm was stolen, jeopardizing the personal information of 13,000 city employees.

And the storage room was often left open and unlocked because it was used by city employees "as a thoroughfare" to reach exits and restrooms. City employees from a different department and who weren't authorized to look at the records had easy access to the files, according to the IG.

The report is the third the inspector general has issued in little more than a year that details how a city agency has failed to safeguard city records.

The IG has found that the police department wasn't properly securing videotapes and case records of confidential child abuse records. It also detailed that the Social Security and bank account information of more than 30,000 past and present city employees were left in unlocked filing cabinets and an easily accessible copy room.

"It shows a pattern that this administration has not taken care of some of the most vulnerable members of our city," said police union chief Kris Baumann, who notified the IG of problems with the police department's safekeeping of juvenile records.

Pictures submitted as part of the IG's report show APS files left out with seemingly no organization, and boxes of files strewn about in the storage room. The IG notes that the disorganization could hinder law enforcement officials who may need the files for a criminal proceeding.

APS said in a written response to the report that it had instituted new obtained new locked file cabinets and instituted new policies to address the IG's concerns.

asuderman@washingtonexaminer.com

   

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