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Federal agency loses data on 100,000 employees

WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration has lost a computer hard drive containing Social Security numbers, bank data, and payroll information for about 100,000 employees.

Authorities realized Thursday that the hard drive was missing from a controlled area at TSA headquarters. Kip Hawley, TSA administrator, sent a letter to employees yesterday apologizing for the lost data and promising to pay for one year of credit-monitoring services.

"TSA has no evidence that an unauthorized individual is using your personal information, but we bring this incident to your attention so that you can be alert to signs of any possible misuse of your identity," Hawley wrote in the letter . "We profoundly apologize for any inconvenience and concern that this incident has caused you."

The agency said it did not know whether the device was still within headquarters or was stolen, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

TSA said it has asked the FBI and Secret Service to investigate and would fire anyone discovered to have violated agency policies.

The hard drive contained information on employees who worked for the Homeland Security agency from January 2002 until August 2005.

TSA, a division of the Homeland Security Department, employs about 50,000 people and is responsible for the security of the nation's transportation systems.

It's the latest mishap for the government involving computer data. Last year, a laptop with information on more than 26.5 million military personnel, was stolen from the home of a Veterans Affairs employee .