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Why did the IRS fire its email storage contractor -- "weeks after" the crash?

Former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Unit Lois Lerner
Former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Unit Lois Lerner
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As CNS News reported Thursday, “the Obama White House says it found ‘zero emails’ between Lois Lerner and the president's office.”

The IRS informed Congress only last Friday that emails to and from Lerner were gone because of a computer crash.
The missing emails -- an unknown number -- include Lerner's communications with other federal agencies.

Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled,” Politico reported Thursday, “making it likely the lost emails of the lightning rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources.”

Curiously, as The Daily Caller reported Sunday, “the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.”

Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.

But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.

According to its website:

The world’s leading companies rely on Sonasoft products to secure their operational data. Sonasoft’s award winning disaster recovery software for Microsoft Servers: SonaVault, SonaExchange, and SonaSQL is known for ease of use and reliability for email archiving, backup, recovery, replication and migration needs.

“Sonasoft’s email archiving solutions include the process of systematically recording and saving copies of email correspondence for record keeping and documentation purposes,” Sonasoft explains, describing its “Email Archiving Solutions” service.

"Email has been growing at the rate of 40% every year and managing emails has become very complex,” Sonasoft also explains of the “importance of Sonasoft’s email archiving solutions.”

Microsoft Exchange Server is not only being used as an email server, it is also being used as a document repository and management system. Businesses are being increasingly asked to retrieve emails during litigation. Also companies need to comply with regulatory compliance requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA. According to Sarbanes-Oxley, public companies must keep all documents and communications for seven years following an audit. The penalties for destroying or altering a document can include fines of up to $5 million and imprisonment for up to 20 years. Hence, Email is becoming the Achilles heel of document and records management.

Companies are scrambling to implement data email archiving solutions to avoid litigation and to manage the growth of their Exchange servers. A good email archiving solutions system should ensure that companies have ready access to email records, whenever it is required. Also, the application should be able to manage exponential increase in the size of Microsoft Exchange servers.

According to, the “total value of purchase orders” for Sonasoft in government contracts – primarily for services provided to the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service -- is $82,350.42.

"We did in fact do a search for all communications between Lois Lerner and any person within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) for this period,” CNS News quoted White House Spokesman Jay Carney telling reporters Wednesday, in response to a request from the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Sonasoft’s Email Archiving solution, SonaVault, is designed to meet regulatory compliance needs of organizations,” the company further explains of the “affordable email archiving solutions from Sonasoft.”

SonaVault Email Archiving systems will capture all incoming, outgoing and internal emails and store them in archive databases as a Single Instance Store (SIS). Also, by use of optional stubbing feature, message contents including attachments will be saved in the archive database and leave behind an empty shell of the message, namely stub in the body of the email.

"Alternatively,” Sonasoft explains further, “messages can be completely deleted from users [sic] mailbox and users can access archived emails through SonaVault Web Console."

This approach will reduce the size of the Exchange server by up to 90%. SonaVault Email Archiving Software solution supports Exchange Server 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2010. SonaVault the best email archiving solutions you can get employs reliable safeguards, including encryption to ensure that the email is tamper-proof and cannot be altered. This email archiving solution gives the ability to migrate all existing PST file data into the archive repository. This enables organizations to eliminate PST files proliferation across the enterprise, thus resulting in better email management.

"We found zero emails, sorry to disappoint, between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period,” CNS News further quoted Carney telling reporters Thursday.

We found three emails where a third party emailed both Lois Lerner and officials within the EOP. One was a spam email, and two others were from a person seeking tax assistance. Each of these emails has been produced to Congress.

However, while the White House may be unable to find more than "three emails," three obvious questions remain unanswered:

  1. Were the “messages” sent from Lerner’s IRS computer “throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails” – which may have been “completely deleted from users [sic] mailbox” -- “archived”?
  2. If so, can those “archived” emails still be accessed through” the “SonaVault Web Console”?
  3. Why did the IRS cancel "its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed"?
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