I was interested to read the figures published last week about the number of laptops that went missing last year from government departments. I’ve been tracking this problem for the past decade and have a reasonable perspective on what constitutes an acceptable rate of loss.
Take Work and Pensions for example. Their minister Jim Knight reported that out of around 9,700 laptops used by his department and its agencies, 41 were lost or stolen in 2008, compared to 15 the previous year, but not as high as the figure of 75 for 2004.
Is this good? In my experience it is no more than an average performance. As I’ve said before, organisations should lose no more than a handful of laptops per 1,000 per year. In the case of DWP, that means less than 50 a year. 41 is neither good nor bad. 75 is a poor performance. But the figure of 15 is surprisingly good.
Of course not every organisation has reliable asset registers and incident reporting systems. So reported figures of losses should always be regarded as potential underestimates.