I was reading the letter from Leonard Oursler, IRS, to Senators Wyden and Hatch and wondered where was the printed copy of Lois Lerner’s emails from 2009 through 2011. Here is what the document says on page 3:
In addition, if an email qualifies as an official record, per IRS policy, the email must be printed and placed in the appropriate file by the employee.
If Ms. Lerner was following IRS procedures then she should have printed a copy of every email that qualified as an official record whenever she moved it from the online storage to the archive. I am guessing that this is the IRS version of a redundant system backup.
Here is another question I have from the document. An email in this document dated June 13, 2011, says her disk drive crashed. If the emails from 2009 through 2011 are lost that implies that she archived them. Why did she archive the 2009 through 2011 emails so quickly? The only answer I can come up with is that she was automatically archiving the emails that are older than a month or two. If she followed this practice than it is unlikely she ever complied with the IRS procedures for printed copies and it explains why electronic discovery is so arduous since the online system contains only the last couple of months of emails. The IRS appears to have deliberately chosen an email retention policy that was prone to both error and abuse. Now they are complaining that searching for Lois Lerner’s emails is so difficult and expensive. I find their whining in the letter to be entertaining especially the part where they complain that more “than 250 IRS employees have spent over 120,000 hours on compliance”. All of these problems disappear if the IRS had chosen to operate a compliant email system in 2011. They have enough money for bonuses to IRS employees who are delinquent on their taxes but not enough money to meet email compliance requirements required by law. Maybe we should postpone all bonuses until they get compliant and fix the Ms. Lerner email problem. They own these problems.
This leads me to my last question. The Inspector General and GAO should have flagged this system as non-compliant. From an electronic discovery standpoint, this email system was born to fail. It is such a bad system you have to wonder why did the Inspector General and GAO look the other way?
For those into conspiracies you have to wonder whether Ms. Lerner knew that the IRS flagged groups with titles including “tea party,” “patriot,” and “9/12 project” for deeper review prior to June 29, 2011 and would likely cause a serious political scandal. This is pretty darn close to June 13 and in hindsight it looks like a very convenient time for a disk crash if you want to cover your tracks.