Politics

Koskinen: ‘Hard Drive Crashes Continue As We Speak’

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner John Koskinen testified Wednesday that the IRS did not save any of the information on Lois Lerner’s destroyed Blackberry and that there is no outside system to store agency emails.

“Hard drive crashes continue as we speak,” Koskinen admitted at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing when asked if any computers had recently crashed under his watch.

Koskinen admitted that destroying records would be an act “not consistent with the law,” but maintained that there’s no evidence that the IRS intentionally destroyed records.

“Ms. Lerner’s Blackberry was replaced in February 2012 as part of an ongoing Blackberry update….it was disposed of under standard procedures at that time,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen claimed that information from Lerner’s Blackberry could not be transferred to her new model because “Our Blackberries only display email that is displayed by our employees’ Microsoft Outlook emails, which is maintained on IRS servers.”

Koskinen also said that there’s no outside system to save IRS employees’ emails.

“There is no system outside the IRS, government or otherwise, that the IRS uses to back up or store emails,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen didn’t mention that the IRS terminated its years-long contract with its email archiving company Sonasoft shortly after Lerner’s computer crashed.

“It is not clear that there are backup tapes that have any information on them,” Koskinen said. “I never said they disappeared, I said they were recycled.”

But the IRS could have easily saved all records, information, and history on Lois Lerner’s Blackberry, according to a Blackberry user guide.

“If you have installed the BlackBerry® Desktop Software on your computer, you can back up and restore most of your BlackBerry smartphone data, including messages, organizer data, fonts, saved searches, and browser bookmarks using the BlackBerry Desktop Software. For more information, see the Help in the BlackBerry Desktop Software,” according to Blackberry.

“If your email account uses a BlackBerry® Enterprise Server, you might be able to restore synchronized organizer data to your smartphone over the wireless network. To restore synchronized organizer data over the wireless network, you must have an activation password. For more information, contact your administrator,” the Blackberry manual continues.

Koskinen said that if the agency destroyed records then “that was an act not consistent with the law” but said, “There’s no evidence that there were records destroyed.”

Koskinen also admitted that IRS employees routinely use personal email accounts to conduct agency business but maintained that “they do it inadvertently.”

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