According to Lundy, a bipartisan parliamentary report into the Management and Integrity of Commonwealth Information in the Commonwealth Government revealed several departments and agencies could not account for the location of physical equipment such as servers.
The inquiry findings revealed that almost 950 laptop computers were lost from 1998 to 2002. The figure does not include an "unknown proportion" of the 537 computers of all types lost by the Department of Defence during the same period, as well as the 117 laptops and 94 PCs from the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) .
According to Lundy, the report is "proof of the chronic neglect of e-security under the watch of the Howard government." She added that the report identified that some agencies and departments do not have adequate security policies in place.
One key recommendation in the report was the requirement for all agencies and departments to have a plan for the physical security of their information technology systems.
The inquiry, originally focussed on the electronic protection of information held by Commonwealth agencies, was opened up to more issues after the committee found a more fundamental problem in physical security of computing assets and the information held on them.
In the report, the committee stated that they "had been angered to learn about the theft of IT equipment from an Australian Customs Service facility at Sydney airport through the media rather than from customs officials."
The customs incident also occurred at the same time as a break-in at a Department of Transport and Regional Services computer facility, which the committee also learned via the media.
The findings stated that a number of Commonwealth agencies had inadequate levels of the physical security for IT equipment which was reflected in successful breaches of the security of facilities, in poor record keeping of lost or stolen IT equipment and in a lack of knowledge of appropriate reporting mechanisms in the event of a security breach.
Lundy said "there is still a chasm between rhetoric and the reality of the Howard/Costello government with respect to e-security."
She added that the findings highlight that the government failed "when it comes to covering the basics of good management and security practice for the protection and security of sensitive and critical Commonwealth information."