The Independence Institute went out and asked for government data. Eventually...it took a Freedom of Information Act effort....but they found that the Homeland Security folks....just in 2008....lost over a 1,000 computers or laptops.
Total cost? Around $13 million.
What Homeland Security said in the end...was that NONE of the lost computers contained sensitive or classified data. Having worked for the Air Force or DOD for over thirty years...I would say the chance of this statement being true...no sensitive or classified data...is about 1 percent. And if it were true...then it'd be the case of a bunch of guys having computers or laptops that they aren't using for daily business...which they really wouldn't want to admit.
What happens from a case like this? The congressional folks will eventually ask enough stupid questions...and Homeland Security has to hire 3,000 folks to control the losses.
How do items like this disappear? There are basically two ways. First, you turn an item into disposal but you screw up the paperwork so that it doesn't get removed from the list...then you move to another organization and the 'memory' of the episode disappears entirely. A year later....the organization is trying to clean up this mess and can't grasp that they've already turned the item into disposal.
The second way? Guys leave their laptop out in a open office....and then return tomorrow to discover it gone. In-house theft. With the thousand odd items...I can only imagine that over half fall into this category. Leadership really hates to stand around and start pointing fingers at their own people....so they avoid the discussion entirely.
So, it's your money...stolen from the guys who supposed to be protecting the homeland. And they swear up and down...that nothing sensitive or classified was lost.
You want to have a drastic effect on theft? Thin client...a dummy terminal...like we had in the old days. But don't worry...we never learn.