BOISE -- A laptop stolen from a legislator's car, a GPS unit gone missing after being taken to a school officers' conference, and a digital camera taken from an unlocked desk: Those are just a few of the items of state property that were stolen or destroyed. We obtained data from the Department of Administration's Risk Management Department. It shows all reported property stolen or destroyed in fiscal years 2009-2011. It includes a cross-section of different agencies: the Department of Corrections, Boise State University, Department of Fish and Game, and Department of Parks and Recreation.
Dr. David Adler, Director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy says, "I don't think people think in terms of damage to furniture or lost or stolen laptops or buildings being damaged by storms."
It all adds up to more than $1.5 million for those three fiscal years--less than one percent of the total state budget. Adler said looking at state budgets for those years; it is not a surprising figure.
"I think the costs that we're discussing are really small potatoes but the reality, is in a difficult economy everybody's looking for a way to save a buck," said Adler.
Part of that falls on Cathy Holland-Smith, the Budget Director for the Legislature. She has been part of this department since 1994, making sure the state budget is balanced and efficient. Her department looks at the numbers from the Risk Management Department. They show how much different agencies get from the state's insurance.
"We look at those numbers every year. What we look at is that we are aware of how much each agency pays into that pool, and then we are aware over each year whether or not it's increasing or decreasing," said Holland-Smith.
They can also show trends from year to year. Holland-Smith said she noticed many claims from Boise State University and the University of Idaho.
"The universities probably, as you would understand, are the biggest users because they have the biggest facilities. They have campuses, they have lots of equipment, things break, some things get stolen," she said.
Many claims from the state's big universities are for building repairs, like water damage, leaks in the ceiling, or damage from high winds. All agencies have an opportunity to respond to the legislature about the claims they have made with risk management. Holland-Smith said the goal of internal reviews is not to discourage agencies from asking for funds to buy what they need.
"I think that there are people in agencies who are extremely conscientious. I think there are people in agencies that make mistakes. People may have a laptop and drop a cup of coffee on it, people may drive a state vehicle, forget to lock it, and someone vandalizes it. So I think people makes mistakes. But I think overall that state employees are extremely conscientious," said Holland-Smith.
Dr. Adler said this is probably not something most people consider.
"It's not something that we ordinarily think about when we're filling out our tax forms or casting votes for those seeking office here in Idaho,
Legislative Budget Director, Cathy Holland-Smith, said that each year they do internal audits on different departments. This year, they are looking at the very same things we did and auditing the Department of Risk Management.