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Dang-IT: tempers flare in angry congressional audit of lost IRS emails

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Blaming seven computer hard drive crashes and antiquated equipment for the recently disclosed lost government emails being sought by angry elected officials, John Koskinen, the newest Commissioner for the beleaguered Internal Revenue Service, testified today before the House Ways and Means Committee and defended agency actions.

Which maybe left some people wondering why the Information Technicians for the IRS have not also been subpoenaed by Congress.

With the IRS claiming it has lost many thousands of emails, from Lois Lerner and six of her IRS co-workers, many of the questions being raised seemed infused with disbelief and suspicion. Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan recalled that a year ago Lois Lerner admitted to Congress that the IRS did target conservative organizations. Within his remarks Camp also mentioned that the years between 2009 and 2011 are the very years of the targeting scheme by the government agency.

Camp stated that the IRS violated the "Constitutional rights" of many taxpayers, and said “what we have found so far is outrageous.” Rep. Sander Levin counted the hours spent on the task of employees paid by the taxpayers to produce documents related to the investigation. He pointed out that Lois Lerner did email on June 14, 2011:

“My computer crashed yesterday.”

Levin stated that now everyone is up-to-date and knows what happened, and the fact that IT experts could not "save her hard drive" as well. He further said he believes that the IRS is "underfunded" and blamed Congress for cutting that funding. Koskinen perhaps was happy to hear it. He said that while the IRS has "one billion" dollars worth of computer equipment, more money should be given them by Congress. The need to "invest, upgrade and maintain" seeming to be the real issue for him.

Tech? Really?

Congressman, business owner and Certified Public Accountant Jim Renacci of Ohio released a statement on the IRS matter, and apparently felt suspicious of the agency. He said:

“On Friday, we learned that the IRS has known for months that it could not retrieve years’ worth of Lois Lerners’ emails, as well as the emails of six other IRS employees. Conveniently for Ms. Lerner, the emails that were lost were sent and received during the height of the IRS' political targeting. This is the same government agency that expects hardworking taxpayers to keep seven years’ worth of records just in case you are selected for an audit. Going forward, will the IRS accept the response ‘I threw away my hard drive’ when auditing an individual who can’t produce adequate documentation? Of course it won’t, and this excuse won’t hold up in Congress either. I don’t buy it."

Back in 2012, as mentioned in a previous Examiner story, it seemed clear from a Congressional report that the IRS failed to "... install crucial software updates and patches." So the idea of needing more money might seem an absolute waste of additional taxpayer funding. The questions arising from this information perhaps should be answered as well before any more funding is tossed in their direction:

  1. Why didn't they install all of those updates, patches?
  2. Where are the IT people and what have they been doing?
  3. What good does spending more money and buying more stuff do if the IRS won't actually use it?

According to the IRS' own website information, under the headings of "Part 1. Organization, Finance, and Management, Chapter 10. Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue," and "Section 3. Standards for Using Email" much can be learned about the agency. Note this bit listed under 1.10.3.2.3 (07-08-2011):

"If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly. The Treasury Department’s current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization’s files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records. If transmission and receipt data are not printed by the email system, annotate the paper copy."

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