A government audit of four US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) centres found $6.4 million (£3.12m) worth of missing or misplaced IT equipment, according to a report released yesterday.
Inventories in fiscal years 2005 and 2006 found about 2,400 missing IT devices at the four VA locations, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said. Among the missing items were dozens of computers that could have stored personal information.
The government office also found computer hard drives being disposed containing the names, social security numbers or medical histories of hundreds of US military veterans.
About 28% of the IT equipment at the VA medical centre in Washington DC was missing or misplaced, the GAO said.
The missing equipment in the new GAO report is in addition to an earlier audit showing more than 8,600 missing IT items, with a combined original cost of $13.2m (£6.43m), from five other VA centres, the GAO said.
There is an “overall lack of accountability” for IT equipment at the VA locations, said McCoy Williams, director of financial management and assurance at GAO.
“Missing IT items were not reported for several months, and in some cases, for several years,” Williams told the subcommittee.
In some cases, hard drives scheduled to be disposed off sat around for several years without being wiped clean, “creating an unnecessary risk that sensitive personal and medical information could be compromised,” Williams added.