Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favour of this particular surveillance program, but it is frustrating to see minor IT issues becoming roadblocks. I have seen similar situations to this one.
A better mode of operation is to grant individuals with local decision making power and periodically check their decisions to ensure they make sense. The $5000 hard drive you imagined would show up on the books and would be difficult to justify. Sure, it might get through one time, but eventually that kind of behaviour would be caught (and the responsible individual would be held accountable). Most people aren't interested in risking their job so their brother can make a few grand.
Always assuming that everyone is trying to screw the system just tells workers that it is better to do NOTHING than to do what's right. You will have a much more productive workforce if you operate under the assumption that people want to make good decisions.
I've seen far too much money wasted on supposedly transparent processes.