TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, February 5, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1002

IRS Logo 2Letter From John Koskinen to Orrin Hatch (Feb. 3, 2016)

Politico, The IRS’s No Good Day:

A once lost hard drive was suddenly found — sort of. In fact, the agency did junk former official Samuel Maruca’s hard drive, which it was supposed to preserve for the IRS’s court battle with Microsoft over an audit of the computer giant. But Koskinen told Senate Finance leaders on Wednesday that the agency actually copied the hard drive before it was wiped clean. "This event reflected a shortcoming in our document controls,” Koskinen wrote, adding that he’s ordered the agency to stop recycling employee devices while the IRS examines its preservation standards.

On those points at least, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch seemed to agree with Koskinen. Both Hatch and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, had expressed concern about the IRS’s document retention efforts in the wake of the latest hard drive issue. "Through sheer coincidence, the IRS's mishandling of critical information caused less damage than initially stated by the Justice Department,” Hatch said, while insisting “these seemingly routine disappearing acts make clear that the agency's recordkeeping practices have fallen woefully short.”

Washington Times, IRS Admits to Mistake For Court Case, Promises to Stop Erasing Hard Drives:

The IRS has put an emergency stay on deleting its computer hard drives and devices such as BlackBerrys, with the commissioner saying in a letter to Congress on Wednesday that the agency goofed in deleting a key hard drive last year that was supposed to be preserved as part of a court case.

Commissioner John Koskinen also said the agency has discovered a backup for that hard drive and may be able to find records critical to the court case. But he said that was a “fortunate” occurrence and vowed to try to reform the tax agency’s practices.

“I have ordered a halt to the erasure and recycling of all employee devices, including hard drives and mobile devices, for all current and departing employees,” he said in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.

He also said the IRS is changing its procedures for when it is required to hold documents for court cases: It will preserve the records not only of the person in question, but his or her supervisor’s records as well.

In the longer term, the IRS is trying to ditch computer hard drives for storage altogether and to require that records be saved on the agency’s main network.

“It has long been our view — validated, unfortunately, by the events of recent years — that the service’s reliance on employee hard drives as an archival records store is suboptimal, not least because they are vulnerable to equipment failure resulting in data loss,” he wrote.

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Comments

Pardon me if I'm underwhelmed by this weak "mea culpa". It's only taken a few years for a supposedly apex manager/administrator to come to this conclusion? That alone should be evidence of incompetence, if not intent.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Feb 5, 2016 4:52:46 AM

Why hasn't Koskinen been impeached? The GoP House is gutless.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Feb 5, 2016 8:19:21 AM

What is the shortcoming, that a backup existed, that a backup was recently discovered, or that the hard drive was wiped? There are a number of ways to interpret the quote above and none of them portray the IRS as competent and acting in good faith.

Posted by: Wodun | Feb 5, 2016 3:09:24 PM

I think you should stop reporting on the IRS scandal.
...when you see a guillotine being constructed on the Mall.

Posted by: Teapartydoc | Feb 5, 2016 5:40:10 PM

Americans have been lulled to sleep. War weary, the unsuspecting subjects of a methodical and well funded Progressive movement, well underway long before the unknown Jr. Senator became a front guy. Our country was served up & over and settled in for "follow the leader." Washington, corrupt to the core, bought and paid for has set a slippery standard for America. The Obama/Jarrett/Holder/Lynch MO is to turn them on one another, even using the tax code to encourage those who feed on unearned credits, already living off a bankrupt system. Worse, BLIND and DEAF to the crooks you expose, "Systems Down...""Identity Theft..." "Criminals are preparing returns...." sure to be yet another blatant sordid mess!
KEEP WRITING! There are a few AMERICANS who continue to get a bit choked up when the truth is reported!

Posted by: Kimberly Milbauer | Feb 9, 2016 9:29:40 PM

Thank you Kimberly

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Feb 10, 2016 6:20:58 AM