Paul L. Caron
Dean



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 671

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Clinton’s E-mail Drama Is Acted Out on the World Stage:

Several days before the world found out that Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account exclusively for all communication as secretary of state, including work-related conversations, a Republican congressman sought to bar Internal Revenue Service employees from using their non-official e-mail for government business.

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) introduced a bill on Feb. 27 directed at the IRS and intended to address allegations that former IRS official Lois Lerner used her personal account to discuss IRS matters. A House Republican-conducted report released in March 2014 said: “Her willingness to handle this information on a non-official e-mail account highlights her disregard for confidential taxpayer information.”

Marchant’s somewhat prescient legislation highlights a loophole in the Federal Records Act. While employees of the federal government are discouraged from using personal e-mail, it’s not barred. The law was updated in late 2014 to say that if personal e-mail is used for work, it must be turned over to be officially archived within 20 days.

In September 2014, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Lerner e-mails, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it’s policy not to use personal e-mail.

“One of the things we’re doing is making sure everybody understands that you cannot use your e-mail for IRS business,” he said. “That’s been a policy; we need to reinforce that.”

But the IRS employee manual says only that “sensitive but unclassified” data can’t be e-mailed outside the IRS network — there’s nothing about an outright prohibition.

In the case of Lerner, House Republicans wanted her e-mails during their investigation into whether the IRS had targeted nonprofits for their political leanings when considering tax-exempt status.

Though the Clinton story shone a light on the federal government’s e-mail policy, Marchant’s office said he doesn’t have any plans to expand the bill to prohibit official business on all feds’ personal e-mail accounts.

Human Events, No One in Government Knows How to Use Email — Except Hillary Clinton:

[R]evelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her private email address, hdr22@clintonemail.com, during her tenure to conduct State Department business, [brought] the topic of email and Internet security back into the national limelight. ... A public probing of Clinton’s email set-up has revealed a staggering ignorance on the part of government officials when it comes to email specifically, and technology more generally. ...

A much bigger technological foul on the part of the government is the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of the emails of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit.

Faced by the House Committee on Oversight’s investigation into its alleged targeting of tax-exempt conservative nonprofit organizations, the IRS claimed to have lost up to two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails.

How could this be possible?

Because of a “computer crash,” IRS officials claimed. And any back-ups were automatically deleted, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. This, despite the fact that emails are stored on cloud servers and were explicitly required by law to be recorded and backed up in a secure location.

Months later, it’s now been revealed those emails are not only recoverable, but an archive of up to 33,000 emails, up to 10 years’ worth, were easily found by a separate department.

Tim Camus, deputy inspector general of the Treasury Department, said finding the emails was done without issue. “They were right where you would expect them to be,” he told the Oversight Committee on Feb. 27.

Federal officials are now probing for potential criminal activity related to the covering-up of Lerner’s emails.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/03/the-.html

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink

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