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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation 465

phrackthat writes with an update to Friday's news that the IRS cannot locate two years worth of email from Lois Lerner, a central figure in the controversy surrounding the IRS's apparent targeting of Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. Now, the IRS says there are another six workers for whom the agency cannot locate emails. As with Lerner, they attribute the unrecoverable emails to computer crashes. Among them was Nikole Flax, who was chief of staff to Lerner’s boss, then-deputy commissioner Steven Miller. Miller later became acting IRS commissioner, but was forced to resign last year after the agency acknowledged that agents had improperly scrutinized tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. Documents have shown some liberal groups were also flagged. ... Lerner’s computer crashed in the summer of 2011, depriving investigators of many of her prior emails. Flax’s computer crashed in December 2011, Camp and Boustany said. The IRS said Friday that technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.
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IRS Lost Emails of 6 More Employees Under Investigation

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  • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:15PM (#47259559)

    Some already did: []

  • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ( 245670 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:35PM (#47259691)

    2 years is a ridiculously short time to "age out" email archives. Especially for an agency that takes longer than that to handle basic interactions. I just got a call last month from the IRS regarding the estate of a relative who passed in 2011. And the IRS claims they have the authority to go back six years for substantial errors so I'd expect them to be keeping their emails at least that long. More realistically, I'd expect them to keep their emails indefinitely. Storage is getting cheaper faster than email accumulates. What does the average person accumulate in a decade? 5 gigs? IRS has around 90,000 employees so that's 450,000 gigs of data give or take. Shit, I've got 32,000 gigs of storage 2' from me. I could expand that to 78,000 by swapping in bigger hard drives. And 144,000 by swapping in bigger drives and adding more ports. That's with stuff I could order from Newegg and assemble on the dining room table. If I went with real equipment, the only limit would be my wallet.

    Last company I worked for, had been archiving email for years before I started and hadn't thrown out (or lost) a single email when I left 5 years later. If legal needed something from 2005, they'd give me the particulars and I'd plug them in and the system spit out a compilation of every message that met the specs. I also made an image of every employee's hard drive when they left the company before I put a fresh image on their computer. Just in case they'd stored something important on their local drive instead of their department's server. Only needed that a few times but the cost was so negligible we spent more on donuts and bagels than storing drive images.

    Their failure to have a redundant, secure archive of such recent email is either intentional destruction or gross incompetence.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @09:51PM (#47259769) Homepage Journal

    Some companies have taken this in a different direction. They have a "delete all email after 30 days" policy, with no exceptions, except for legal holds required for gathering evidence in specific legal situations.

    Having and following a policy are the only requirement. It doesn't have to be a rational policy, it just has to be a policy. A policy of timed destruction, even if it's only a month, fits the requirement, and it helps avoid deep legal fishing.

  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @12:16AM (#47260333) Homepage Journal

    You've missed what the scandal was.

    no Tea Party groups were denied their application from what i remember, but at least one progressive group was.

    That was exactly the point. The IRS was making demands for data so onerous as to be literally impossible to comply with. They never denied Tea Party groups - but they just never allowed them, either, leaving them in a legal limbo. They instead demanded an impossible amount of documentation from them to "prove" their legality.

    The fact that a progressive group was able to submit an application and be denied actually proves the IRS's malfeasance: they were capable of submitting an application at all, while Tea Party groups simply could not possibly meet the IRS's impossible demands for their applications.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:20AM (#47260531) Journal

    It wasn't unlawful, since no "illegal information" was required or used. If you think it was, cite the law that was broken. My wager is that you can't.

    Information leaked by the IRS - information that was illegal to do so []. Donor lists are private and are NOT required for 501c(x) filings; yet the IRS demanded them, and in this case when they were provided, they were leaked. That's a felony.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:42AM (#47260733) Journal

    Look - the Inspector General of the Treasury Department said it targeted groups for political reasons [] and that violates the equal protection under the law clause. Not to mention targeted audits of the same donors to those targeted groups []. If it didn't do anything wrong, then why did the IRS apologize for its activities []?

    Apparently you don't have a problem with the politicization of the IRS, to use the Government to attack political opponents. I get that. Most sane and reasonable people do have a problem with it - at least an ethical, if not recognizing that it's illegal and a gross misuse of Government power.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:01AM (#47260779)

    and flagged more progressive groups for review

    "Review" meant a very different thing for groups that had things like "Tea Party" in their name, such as intrusive demands for information on participants and not actually approving any such groups for 27 months [].

    In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.

    That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn't be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.

    In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.

    Your talking points are obsolete.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:49AM (#47260849) Journal

    Hereâ(TM)s how the IRS lost emails from key witness Lois Lerner []

    It kept a backup of the records for six months on digital tape, according to a letter sent from the IRS to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). After six months, the IRS would reuse those tapes for newer backups. So when Congressional committees began requesting emails from the agency, its records only went back to late 2012.

    The IRS also had two other policies that complicated things. The first was a limit on how big its employees' email inboxes could be. At the IRS, employees could keep 500 megabytes of data on the email server. If the mailbox got too big, email would need to be deleted or moved to a local folder on the user's computer.

    I don't think that qualifies as "massively inept," only as garden variety ineptness.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:41AM (#47261229)

    AC, you clearly are in need of a massive civics lesson.

    Read these words, and meditate on them:

    "I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

    When you start making it "OK" to silence people you disagree with or disapprove of, it opens the doors for people who disapprove of you, or disagree with your views to silence YOU.

    We make the acts of discrimination illegal. Not the idea. People are entitled to their own beliefs, even if those beliefs cannot be substantiated with evidence. We counter this with being allowed to hold our own beliefs, which we attest are substantiated with evidence.

    When you start telling people that they must believe the same way that you do, you are perpetrating the same crime that religious authority figures commit when they go on holy wars and crusades.

    Resorting to hyperbole, like "only a racist would call this thing a scandal.", you are tit-for-tat in line with religious oppressors that claim things like "Only an infidel" or "Only a godless sinner" to justify their actions.

    Do you want to be with that group?

  • by pnutjam ( 523990 ) <> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @10:06AM (#47262311) Homepage Journal
    The blame for this falls squarely on Exchange. It's limit on mailbox sizes forced people to archive to local pst files. This is something that has only been addressed at many organizations over the couple years. They've been planning and testing for about 5 years, but I don't find it difficult to believe that emails could be lost. Decentralized storage of old emails used to be the norm.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.