IRS Claims Two Years Of Emails Were Destroyed In A 'Computer Crash;' Congressman Asks The NSA To Supply 'Missing' Email Metadata

from the hilarious-except-for-the-tax-dollars-funding-the-debacle dept

The IRS is currently being investigated by Congress for some possibly politically-motivated "attention" it directed towards "Tea Party" and other conservative groups that operated as tax-exempt entities. Along the way, IRS official Lois Lerner, who was the first to publicly disclose the inappropriate targeting, was also one of the first government officials to plead the Fifth (twice) in government hearings.

The Congressional investigation demanded copies of Lois Lerner's emails from the IRS. Some were turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee, but not everything it sought. Now, the IRS is telling the committee that it's not going to get everything it asked for.
The IRS has told Congress that it lost more than two years’ worth of emails involving former IRS official Lois Lerner, due to a computer crash.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) on Friday said it was “unacceptable” that he was just learning of this problem now, after a lengthy investigation into Lerner’s involvement in the IRS targeting scandal.
Camp points out that the IRS withheld these emails for over a year before suddenly "discovering" they were unavailable. The IRS says it can find everything Lerner sent to and received from other IRS employees but nothing containing correspondence with those outside the agency.

Obviously, this convenient "computer crash" has generated a lot of skepticism. For one thing, a "computer crash" doesn't really have the power to destroy electronic communications. Email is always almost stored somewhere else other than the local user's computer. And even if the IRS meant a "server crash" instead of a "computer crash," any decent server system contains multiple levels of redundancy.

The Blaze sought input from Norman Cillo, a former Microsoft project manager, who presented six reasons why he believes the IRS is lying about its inability to recover these emails. Number one on the list seems to be the most applicable.
I believe the government uses Microsoft Exchange for their email servers. They have built-in exchange mail database redundancy. So, unless they did not follow Microsoft's recommendations they are telling a falsehood.
The IRS's own policies on email state that its employees use both Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, which means it should have some form of backup available.
Secure Messaging enrollment is an automated process for all LAN accounts with an Exchange mailbox in IRS. You can find the instructions for configuring the Outlook client to use the certificates at the Secure Enterprise Messaging Systems (SEMS) web site: http://documentation.sems.enterprise.irs.gov/.
According to Cillo, the only other explanation for the IRS's inability to recover these emails is that the agency is "totally mismanaged and has the worst IT department ever." Unfortunately, the government seems to have a lot of mismanaged and terrible IT departments, so this may be closer to the truth than anyone would really like to admit. Perhaps the general ineptitude of large government agencies is behind the Treasury Department's policy that all email sent to or from IRS employees be "archived" via hard copy printouts.
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.
There's more information here, citing the IRS's own internal guidelines on tape backups, etc., that suggest further levels of redundancy, as well as the commissioner of the IRS testifying that the agency stores its emails on servers.

Critics believe the IRS has simply "vanished" the crucial emails in order to cut Lerner adrift and make it appear she acted alone. Any evidence that would tie outside government agencies (including the administration itself) into this situation has been deemed unrecoverable. Supposedly, there should be paper copies of the missing emails, but no one in Congress has requested these and the IRS certainly isn't offering to look.

But one Congressman thinks he has a solution to the missing email dilemma. Steve Stockman (last seen here threatening to bring a defamation lawsuit against someone who uttered true facts about his criminal past) knows some people who have a whole lot of email data just laying around.
“I have asked NSA Director Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”
Yeah, let me know how that works out for you, Steve. The NSA can't even confirm or deny its monthly water usage at its Utah data site, much less that it has metadata pertaining to Americans' communications.

[Sidebar: I do really love the fact that this sort of thing is becoming increasingly common -- the use of the NSA as the backup-of-last-resort for phone/email/internet communications data. If anyone claims it can't find email X or phone record Y, someone's going to say, "Hey, I'll bet the NSA has a copy!" Hilarious. The NSA will never again be allowed to pretend it doesn't harvest data on American citizens.]

The whole letter, which begins with some light ass-kissing of new NSA director Michael Rogers ("thank you for your 33 years of, and continued service to, our country...") and closes with a bit of grandstanding, surreally asking "the Agency" to send all relevant metadata on the missing Lerner emails to "Donny@mail.house.gov." All in all, probably one of the most incongruous demands the NSA has ever received, a letter which conjures up the image of a late-night meeting in an underground parking garage, with sunglassed NSA liaisons handing over a briefcase full of metadata to a 19-year-old intern dressed in his dad's suit.

It's pretty hard to shake the impression that this is a coverup. As always, the specter of pure ineptitude lurks in the background, as it often does when large bureaucracies tangle with technology. But until the IRS presents further evidence detailing how exactly these emails went missing, it's safe to assume there's been an active effort made to cover up government impropriety.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 7:57am

    "Obviously, this convenient "computer crash" has generated a lot of skepticism. For one thing, a "computer crash" doesn't really have the power to destroy electronic communications. Email is always almost stored somewhere else other than the local user's computer. And even if the IRS meant a "server crash" instead of a "computer crash," any decent server system contains multiple levels of redundancy."

    This isn't necessarily true, even if it is very likely true of official servers used by the IRS. And the term "computer" also refers servers as well as workstations so that isn't exactly a point of contention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:29am

      Re:

      Why are we assuming it was a "decent server system"? Seems far more likely that it would be a Frankenstein's monster of out of date systems.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Oblate (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      Under the patchwork of systems used throughout the various government agencies, it is entirely conceivable that her e-mail was stored on her pc (i.e. deleted from server upon download). What I haven't seen mentioned is that most, if not all, government computers are on a network backup system(general filesystem backup, not specific to e-mail). So unless she specifically excluded her e-mail files from the backup (which is bordering on premeditated murder of a file) the e-mail should still exist on the filesystem backup. So some questions this raises are:

      Have they looked beyond the e-mail server for these files?

      Was it her pc that they are claiming crashed?

      What other files were lost is this terribly convenient crash?

      After this crash, what efforts were made at recovery of the data on the server/pc?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      horkos, 16 Jun 2014 @ 3:49pm

      Re:

      I've read elsewhere that the IRS letter stated it was due to her hard drive crashingcrashing specifically, not a server.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:05am

    It is sad we are getting close to when they will run off for summer vacation...this ruins the plan of just nuking the whole damn thing from orbit and starting over.

    I gotta think the new replacement government would be very mindful knowing that if pushed, we'll just nuke the whole damn thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:07am

    Parallels?

    Interesting that Nixon's second article of impeachment was just this exact type of thing; using the IRS to go after your opponents:

    "1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."

    source: http://watergate.info/impeachment/articles-of-impeachment

    Back then, it wasn't the crime so much as the cover up. History repeats itself...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:10am

    A letter from a Congresscritter doesn't have the full weight of law behind it. But perhaps a Congressional subpoena might?

    Let's get Congress and the NSA in a cage match!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:12am

    Convenient partitioning

    The IRS says it can find everything Lerner sent to and received from other IRS employees but nothing containing correspondence with those outside the agency.

    I've never heard of an email partitioning scheme that would put all email to/from outside the agency on a separate vulnerable data store. Clever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:19am

      Re: Convenient partitioning

      That's not it. It's more like her account got destroyed but they can retrieve the copy of the emails from the other employee's she corresponded with within the agency because those accounts remain unaffected.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:22am

      Re: Convenient partitioning

      As I understand some of the other news reporting, they are claiming that all e-mail boxes for Lois Lerner for that time period were lost. They then claim that they recovered the intra-agency e-mails by searching the mailboxes of other employees to find mails to that employee from Lois Lerner and vice versa. They then imply that it is impractical or impossible to extend such a search to recover inter-agency e-mails by searching the mailboxes of government employees in other departments. While technically true on the scale of searching all U.S. Federal employee mailboxes, it may not be impractical to perform a partial recovery by searching the mailboxes of certain employees who would be likely contacts for an inter-agency conspiracy.

      From a purely technical standpoint, if we assume that her e-mail boxes were lost, the rest of the claims sound plausible. However, as the Techdirt author, numerous critics, and a few technical experts have alleged, it is highly implausible that her e-mail boxes were lost in such a politically convenient way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

        They then claim that they recovered the intra-agency e-mails by searching the mailboxes of other employees to find mails to that employee from Lois Lerner and vice versa.

        That's entirely possible, and something I frequently see done during electronic discovery. We use the same process where I work, but we are only trying to verify we collected everything we reasonably could. Review platforms/companies (e.g., Recommind, ZyLab, kCura) can churn through mountains of raw email and build out conversations to show who was talking about specific topics. It can also identify gaps in message chains where someone might have been trying to hide evidence.

        They then imply that it is impractical or impossible to extend such a search to recover inter-agency e-mails by searching the mailboxes of government employees in other departments.

        They don't need to search every mail account, only those which Lois Lerner would frequently have contacted or was alleged to have contacted. Failing to do this appears to fail the reasonableness test imposed by courts for electronic discovery. Pulling the email for a selection of employees is not that difficult. For example, my employer had a legal hold with over 7000 employees on it and we were able to manage collection of email without any major problems. It took time to gather the data and place it in a secure location, but server side data is an easy task when compared against client side data.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 17 Jun 2014 @ 12:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

          I wonder...if the IRS sent a subpoena to someone asking for email records, would they accept a claim that those records are unavailable due to a computer crash?

          Or would their response involve armed federal agents kicking in doors?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2014 @ 4:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

            Who needs to send armed federal agents when the NSA has probably got copies of their email anyway?

            Also ...anyone refusing to turn over all their most personal (i.e sexy) content is automatically considered an enemy combatant under the President-wants-to-kill-you-with-robots Act and can therefore be legally and sensibly blown to pieces with a drone strike in the local wal-mart parking lot...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:13am

        Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

        They then claim that they recovered the intra-agency e-mails by searching the mailboxes of other employees to find mails to that employee from Lois Lerner and vice versa.

        I repeat, that is too convenient, as it assumes she never copied an external email to one of her work colleagues.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:28am

      Re: Convenient partitioning

      Possibly some kind of policy of archiving email to a local pst file and deleting them from the Exchange mailbox combined with a total lack of backups on the Exchange server could mean that they can have everyone look in their local pst files and get communication with her, but any correspondence outside of the group would be gone.

      This would suggest a rather inept IT department, but it could explain the missing parts of her mailbox.

      Of course, the fact that we have to speculate is also ridiculous - if you really have lost all of this email, have your IT department issue a statement explaining what happened.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:37am

        Re: Convenient partitioning

        The problem here is assuming that anyone was minding the store. Microsoft sells itself as a solution that does not need competent management. Organizations quite often skimp on IT resources. Although the IRS is a pretty large organization. However, you could possibly chalk up such a snafu to lowered expectations in the civil service.

        ...although it all does seem horribly convenient.

        Also, it's somewhat amusing that laymen presume that the IRS was minding things properly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:59am

          Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

          No one should genuinely believe that they do not have backups of those emails. This is a huge load of lies being fed to the feeble minded old men who barely understand their own PCs.

          MIcrosoft exchange does redundancy by DEFAULT. So someone would have to actively sabotage the software for it not to do that. Furthermore, I doubt the lady presenting knew the difference between her own computer and the server the emails are on.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            cerda (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:12am

            Policies

            Keep in mind that internal policies may dictate that Exchange only maintains the last 'n' months of emails; of course, users may archive older emails in their local machine (which could crash and lose them). I have seen this limit at 6 months, for example. Limits on storage are also common.

            Of course, it is not know if the IRS has such policy. But many companies have it in place (it allows keeping a limit on storage *and* allows for a legally valid excuse if faced with discovery: "we have a policy of only maintaining emails for a period").

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:32am

              Re: Policies

              Of course, it is not known if the IRS has such policy. But many companies have it in place (it allows keeping a limit on storage *and* allows for a legally valid excuse if faced with discovery: "we have a policy of only maintaining emails for a period").

              That's not strictly true. While a records retention policy will allow you to defensibly delete electronic files in most cases there should have been a legal hold in place at the IRS. In the case of Lois Lerner there would (at least should) have been a high probability of litigation. Once there is an expectation of litigation, data relevant to the matter must be retained as part of the electronic discovery process. Generally speaking, judges tend to not be amused by litigants who selectively delete relevant data, especially if the data hurts them. Unfortunately I the Department of Justice doesn't hold its sibling agencies to the same standards as businesses and citizens.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            JEDIDIAH, 16 Jun 2014 @ 1:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Convenient partitioning

            > MIcrosoft exchange does redundancy by DEFAULT

            ...and I've seen "IT professionals" turn stuff like that off because they think it will bog things down or some other similar nonsense. You really can't underestimate the stupidity of people.

            The fact that this is government just magnifies the problem.

            If you are assuming that people will "do things right", then that's a really bad assumption. Your thinking is FAR too optimistic for any kind of computing work.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jay Lahto (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Convenient partitioning

      I've seen this in real life.
      Imagine a corporate executive who feels the need to store all of his Exchange email in a .pst file, expressly against IT policy but he insists that he needs more than IT has allocated per mailbox...
      Now further imagine this nameless executive knows just enough about Windows and Outlook to be dangerous to himself and those around him. One night he's doing personal folder maintenance. He thinks he's archiving a certain account's emails with drag&drop operations to a pst file on a thumb drive. Then Mr. Wonderful deletes his junk mail, empties the Deleted Mail folder and runs the compact datafile tool. Several weeks later, he discovers,(duh) those emails never copied over and they're no longer recoverable. Now horrified exec even offers to pay out of pocket for DriveSavers, to no avail.

      Moral of the story: Never put anything beyond the ability of a human to mess up. They will prove you wrong, everytime.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:16am

    First the NSA and DOJ destroy evidence. Now the IRS is destroying evidence. We live in a country run by lawless individuals who are never held accountable for their felonious crimes.

    The IRS, who's responsible for archiving the tax returns of millions of individuals and businesses, is incapable of archiving an email database? Plus, it just so happens that the two year span of emails Congress is asking for, suddenly went missing?

    Ahhhahahahah, they must think Congress and the American public are gullible morons who drool on themselves. You know there was emails linking the White House to illegal activity, if all of a sudden the email server "crashed" with no backups are anywhere to be found.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:16am

    The IRS is doing it wrong...

    You don't claim a computer crashed and destroyed the evidence, you claim that if you hadn't destroyed the evidence, we're all going to die!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:02am

      Re: The IRS is doing it wrong...

      The IRS Email server gained sentience and was enacting a plan to take over the world with machines. We had to stop it, for the good of the nation!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:17am

    The IRS requires accounting firms to keep tax documents for seven years. What if there was a fire ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:19am

    HA HA HA!!! so what excuse was used by the NSA to not re-supply them? you can bet your arse, they have copies, without a doubt!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Awash In Greed (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:31am

    What I haven't seen someone mention yet...

    What about the possibility of her using some other provider for email (Yahoo, Google, etc.)? If it worked for Cheney and numerous other "public" servants, why not her?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rocco Maglio (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:42am

    There were already six investigations of the IRS targeting

    There were already six investigations of the IRS targeting. I saw numerous people (Jay Carney, Harry Reid, etc) make statements how one more investigation was unnecessary. That this was just a political exercise since it was throughly investigated. Well apparently none of those six investigations were through enough to uncover that they did not have all outside emails from the person at the center of the targeting. I am waiting for the apologizes from all the politicians and press that made those statements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:43am

    " If anyone claims it can't find email X or phone record Y, someone's going to say, "Hey, I'll bet the NSA has a copy!" Hilarious."

    Yeah, hilarious until someone decides to retrospectively fit you up for a criminal offence and the defence never gets to see the secret evidence and doesn't have it's own verifiable copies. Remember that email you sent on 12 Oct 2003 to that guy who turned out to be 2 hops from a bad guy? What you don't? We have reconstructed your pattern of suspicious behavior, do not pass Go, do not collect 200$, go directly to jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trevor, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:47am

    Bull

    The IRS "loses" 2 years worth of Emails because of a "computer crash" but is able to go after people for their parents' debts from the 1970's or earlier?

    I call bull.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Josh (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:48am

    Taxes

    Isn't this the same organization who expects us to have every tax documentation we ever got? What would they do if we gave this excuse?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:57am

    I'm sorry Mr Congressman, all my hard drives and RAID arrays were lost in a tragic boating accident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:10am

    The terrorists deleted the data!

    'The terrorists destroyed all the data and backups' would have been more believable.

    Our leaders better start listening to the citizens. A lot of people are starting to think that the use of a weapon may be the only way to straighten out our crooked leaders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:26am

    I would make the guess that Lois Lerner did not use the required government emails for much of this. This same thing turned up with Janet Napolitano if I remember it rightly. She was proud she didn't use email but her secretary did under her name.

    It turned out that Janet didn't have an email trail because she used an outside source that was left out of the trail. Here it looks like the IRS is trying to say they don't exist and doesn't want to look for them very hard. The excuse cooked up isn't going to work. Question is how hard they will demand the emails and how far they are willing to go. As speculation I would guess this was demanded to be done from somewhere in the White House and no one wants to take the heat for it. So it will be stonewalled at least until the present administration is out of office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:33am

    This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

    It appears that this administration can lie an deny its way out of any situation. If only all of us could do that. Instead, we get cops jumping on our hoods after a cease fire was called after 122 shots fired and pumping 15 more rounds in us for good measure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 16 Jun 2014 @ 12:19pm

      Re: This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

      It is not the most corrupt administration, it is just the most transparent about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 6:14pm

        Re: Re: This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

        Well the US people were promised 'The most transparent administration in US history'...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 8:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

          "Well the US people were promised 'The most transparent administration in US history'..."

          Would you settle for the most transparently corrupt?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2014 @ 11:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

            What other form of transparency did you think I was talking about, they certainly aren't transparent in any other sense.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2014 @ 7:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: This is the most corrupt administration we have ever had

            The most transparent administration in US history - because we can see straight through Obama's bullshit into his dark, twisted corporate-owned heart.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lurker Keith, 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:47am

    Catch 22

    I'm surprised noone caught onto the Catch 22 this request puts the NSA in. Snowden has revealed the NSA has been unconstitutionally collecting data, meta or otherwise, on nearly all Americans. If the NSA provides these E-mails, it further backs up Snowden. If they claim they can't, Congress will ask what the point of collecting all this data was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    silverscarcat (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 9:50am

    The NSA isn't going to rat out the IRS...

    Seriously, the one branch of government that could screw the NSA over is the IRS and vice-versa. Why would they stop the whole "you scratch our backs, we'll scratch yours" deal they (likely) have going on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:08am

    The hierarchy of Life:

    Those who can do.
    Those who can't, teach.
    Those who can't teach, teach PhysEd.
    Those who can't teach PhysEd, work in IT for the government.
    Those who can't work in IT for the government, become members of Congress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zip, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:21am

    Déjà vu

    They need to do the same thing that Congress did about the missing Bush-era emails -- appropriate millions of dollars to try to recover them. (and since $10 million barely recovered any emails the last time, maybe appropriate at least $100 million this time around, since we all know "government work" doesn't come cheap.)

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/12/obama-administration-restore-missing-bush-emails

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:24am

    Good luck, Senator

    So what does the Honorable Senator Stockman plan to due when the NSA tells him he can't have any metadata?

    "We wouldn't be able to share such data with Congress due to national security concerns. You're not cleared to see it, Senator. Anyway, it doesn't exist, because we don't record that data on the IRS."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:30am

    According to Cillo, the only other explanation for the IRS's inability to recover these emails is that the agency is "totally mismanaged and has the worst IT department ever."

    I believe that clinching evidence for that hypothesis may be found just a few lines away:

    The IRS's own policies on email state that its employees use both Microsoft Outlook and Exchange [...]

    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael J. Evans, 16 Jun 2014 @ 10:57am

    Incompetence they should outsource

    As far as I am aware, the IRS does not handle any sensitive data. They should really just outsource this portion of their infrastructure to an outside party that is actually competent and capable of maintaining backups.

    Their failure should also be considered a sign of guilt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 16 Jun 2014 @ 11:51am

    Dear IRS,

    This email is in reference to the email I received last year from Lois Lerner that eliminated my obligation to pay any federal taxes for the remainder of my natural life. It is my understanding that you have lost all evidence that this email was sent to me, so I wanted to provide you with a new email that you can more properly save in the event that anyone ever questions why I do not have to pay these taxes anymore.

    Since this was a two-party contract, and you have lost your documentation for the contract, I am happy to provide you with this new documentation. This way, if there is ever a dispute about the contract, you will not be completely unable to refute my version. I will also keep a copy of this email just in case you lose your copy again.

    Thank you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 16 Jun 2014 @ 2:23pm

    Considering the original claim is BS

    It just looks like more government idiocy to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 16 Jun 2014 @ 4:08pm

    "Oh no, the computer crashed and we lost all that data."
    "In that case we would like to see the backups from that system."
    "Er, ah, the backup?"
    "Yes, you know when you copy information to another computer in case just such an accident occurs. Usually, depending on the sensitivity of the data, it's done daily."
    "Oohh, that type of back up. It crashed as well."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Sadly the IRS has watched too many Hollywood movies and now believes either 'hackers' typed on the keyboard really REALLY quickly, thus erasing the emails, the stored backups AND the printouts...OR they believe Lerner accidentally hit the "explode computer" button (It's marked DELETE on their keyboards because it apparently deletes the entire physical presence of incriminating data and destroys the hard drives the emails were stored on....)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2014 @ 4:18pm

    As a side note something that would make Mike probably piss himself laughing would be if someone from a data-recovery firm enjoys Techdirt and offers to run some data-recovery options through the IRS's email system for them...FOR FREE...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2014 @ 10:19pm

    This is why data recovery companies such as WeRecoverData.com invests on Research and Development for data recovery and data forensics to find more advance techniques on how to recover data from damaged storage media due to computer crashes and physical hardware failures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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