TIGTA: IRS Must Keep Better Track of Its Records

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jul 17, 2017
IRS

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said in a recent report that that IRS policies do not comply with federal record retention requirements, which requires that agencies ensure that all records are retrievable and usable for as long as needed. This has resulted in the service sometimes being unable to respond to requests for documentation due to records sometimes being lost or destroyed before they can be properly archived. 

For example, according to TIGTA, IRS e-mail retention policies are not adequate because e-mails are not automatically archived for all IRS employees. Instead, the IRS’s current policy instructs employees to take manual actions to archive e-mails by saving them permanently on computer hard drives or network shared drives. This policy has resulted in lost records when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged. In addition, a recently instituted executive e-mail retention policy, which should have resulted in the archiving of e-mails from specific executives, was not implemented effectively because some executives did not turn on the automatic archiving feature. 

It also noted that, in certain cases, IRS policies were not implemented consistently: TIGTA's review of 30 completed Freedom of Information Act requests found that in more than half of the responses, the IRS did not follow its own policies that require it to document what records were searched. TIGTA also found that IRS policies for preserving records from separated employees were not adequate.

TIGTA said that the IRS should implement an enterprise email solution that lets the service comply with federal requirements, and that the newly issued policy on the collection and preservation of Federal records associated with separated employees be disseminated throughout the agency to ensure consistency. The IRS agreed with TIGTA's recommendations, and added that that deployment of a new enterprise e-mail solution is currently underway that should enable the IRS to comply with Federal records management requirements. The IRS also stated that it has issued interim guidance on the separating employee clearing process for collecting and preserving Federal records, which has been disseminated throughout the IRS.

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