15 Technology Questions for the IRS Prior to Monday’s Hearing

In advance of tomorrow evening’s hearing on the Lost Lois Lerner emails, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has asked the IRS Commissioner to provide answers to 15 technology questions.

On Fri. June 13, the IRS notified Congress that key emails during a two year time frame, January 2009 to April 2011, were irretrievably lost due to a “crash” of Lerner’s hard drive and of a server. The IRS also said that computer crashes affected six other IRS employees who are connected to the investigation.

After the Friday notification, the Oversight Committee requested that the IRS make Thomas Kane, the IRS Acting Deputy Chief Counsel for Procurement and Administration, available for a transcribed interview about the Lerner emails but the IRS declined. The Committee then requested a briefing “to discuss the IRS’s e-mail systems, data retention policies, and document production processes” but the IRS declined that request as well.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

“Because the IRS has refused to provide basic information about these matters to the Committee in advance of the hearing, and in the interest of promoting a frank and thorough discussion at the hearing, I ask that you provide answers to the factual questions posed below,” writes Issa in a letter addressed to Commissioner John Koskinen on Saturday.

At a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday, Koskinen testified that there’s been no attempt to intentionally destroy documents. Republicans were skeptical while Democrats apologized to Koskinen and accused Republicans of being obsessed with Area 51-like conspiracies.

Here are the 15 questions the Oversight Committee has submitted to the IRS (including subparts). Answers are due prior to Monday’s scheduled 7pm hearing:

1. Please explain the failure of the hard drive on Lois Lerner’s computer in or around 2011, including the following information:

Please provide the date of the failure of the hard drive.

Please identify the type of failure – hardware or software – of the hard drive.

Please identify all IRS employees who had any responsibility or role in examining or recovering data from the hard drive between January 1, 2011, and August 31, 2011.

Please explain the steps, and provide the corresponding dates, taken by the IRS to attempt to recover data from the hard drive between January 1, 2011, and August 31, 2011.

Please explain whether the IRS issued a new computer or hard drive to Lois Lerner following the hard drive failure in or around 2011.

2. Please explain the IRS’s discovery that the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer resulted in the destruction of documents responsive to the Committee’s subpoenas of August 2, 2013, and February 14, 2014, including the following information:

Please identify all IRS employees who had any responsibility or role in identifying, reviewing, redacting, or producing documents to the Committee in 2013 and 2014.

Please identify the IRS employee who initially discovered the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer in the course of reviewing, redacting, or producing documents to the Committee in 2013 and 2014.

Please provide the date on which you learned of the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer.

Please explain how you learned of the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer.

Please provide the date on which you learned that the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer resulted in the destruction of documents responsive to the Committee’s subpoenas of August 2, 2013, and February 14, 2014.

Please explain how you learned that the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer resulted in the destruction of documents responsive to the Committee’s subpoenas of August 2, 2013, and February 14, 2014.

Please identify the IRS employee(s) who informed you that the hard drive failure on Lois Lerner’s computer resulted in the destruction of documents responsive to the Committee’s subpoenas of August 2, 2013, and February 14, 2014.

3. Please explain the steps, and provide the corresponding dates, taken by the IRS to attempt to recover data from the hard drive(s) on Lois Lerner’s computer(s) between May 10, 2013, and the present, including the following information:

Please identify all IRS employees who had any responsibility or role in recovering data from the hard drive(s) on Lois Lerner’s computer(s) between May 10, 2013, and the present.

Please explain whether the IRS used a clean room or similar controlled-environment facility to attempt to recover data from the hard drive(s) on Lois Lerner’s computer(s).

Please provide the name and location of the clean room or similar controlled-environment facility used to attempt to recover data from the hard drive(s) on Lois Lerner’s computer(s).

Please provide the date(s) on which the hard drive(s) on Lois Lerner’s computer(s) was sent to a clean room or similar controlled-environment facility.

4. Please identify all IRS employees who had any responsibility or role in maintaining or servicing IRS e-mail exchange servers between 2009 and the present.

5. Please identify all vendors and outside contractors used by the IRS for the following purposes:

To develop, service, or maintain the IRS’s e-mail systems.

To develop, service, or maintain the IRS’s e-mail exchange servers.

To recycle or destroy IRS hard drives.

To provide mobile phone and data services.

6. Please identify the IRS employee(s) most knowledgeable about the following information:

The IRS’s e-mail systems.

The IRS’s e-mail exchange servers.

The IRS’s mobile phone devices and service contracts.

The IRS’s document retention policies and procedures.

Digital forensics and data recovery.

The IRS’s asset inventory of computers and mobile phones.

7. Please identify the IRS employee(s) with last known custody or control of the following items:

IRS computer(s) and mobile phone(s) issued to Lois Lerner.

IRS hard drive(s) or external drive(s) issued to Lois Lerner.

IRS e-mail exchange back-up tapes or drives.

IRS mobile phone records.

The IRS’s asset inventory of computers and mobile phones.

IRS “trouble ticket,” “incident ticket,” or “requisition request” A “trouble ticket,” “incident tickets,” or “requisition request” refers to any written record of malfunction, failure, or error relating to IRS electronic hardware. logs or records from January 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011.

IRS back-up logs or records for e-mail exchange servers between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011.

IRS “trouble ticket,” “incident ticket,” or “requisition request” See supra note 7. logs or records from May 10, 2013, to the present.

8. Please explain the IRS’s document retention policies and procedures, including the following information:

Please identify the IRS document(s) that details the IRS’s document retention policies and procedures.

Please identify the IRS employee responsible for compliance and enforcement of the IRS’s document retention policies and procedures.

9. Please explain the architecture and structure of the IRS’s e-mails systems and exchange servers, including the following information:

Please identify the type of e-mail service used by the IRS.

Please identify the type of e-mail exchange server used by the IRS.

Please explain whether personal storage table (.pst) files are stored on the hard drives of the computers operated by IRS employee or on an IRS network or shared drive.

10. Please explain the architecture and structure of the IRS’s electronic data restoration and archival systems.

Please explain whether the IRS has separate systems for data restoration and data archival.

Please explain the IRS’s restoration and archival back-up policies for e-mail exchange servers between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011.

Please explain the IRS’s restoration and archival back-up policies for hard drives and shared drives between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2011.

11. Please quantify the number of forensic images of the failed hard drive on Lois Lerner’s computer that currently exist.

12. Please quantify the number of forensic images of the failed hard drive on Lois Lerner’s computer that existed as of August 31, 2011.

13. Please quantify the following for the period January 1, 2011, to June 30, 2011:

The number “trouble tickets,” “incident tickets,” or “requisition requests” See supra note 7. issued for hard drive-related malfunctions on IRS computers.

The number of software malfunctions of hard drives on IRS computers.

The number of hardware malfunctions of hard drives on IRS computers.

The number of successful retrievals of data from hard drive-related malfunctions on IRS computers.

14. Please provide the barcode(s) for IRS computer(s) issued to Lois Lerner.

15. Please provide the barcode(s) for IRS mobile phone(s) issued to Lois Lerner.

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