Tags: IRS | IRS Scandal | IRS | instant message | archive | Lois Lerner | Jason Chaffetz

House Committee: IRS Used Record-less Instant Message System

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By    |   Tuesday, 28 Jul 2015 03:08 PM

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reporting that the IRS had an instant messaging system that was "wholly separate" from its email system that did not archive communications.

In a letter written to President Barack Obama on Monday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, along with 20 committee members, made a case for the president as to why they think IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be removed from his post. 

As part of that letter, the committee reveals several findings from its investigation into the scandal, in which the IRS allegedly put conservative groups through additional scrutiny when they applied for non-profit status leading up to the 2012 presidential election, which resulted in significant delays for their approval.

In the course of its investigation, the House committee discovered that apart from regular communications through email, "the IRS maintained a wholly separate instant-messaging communication system it did not regularly archive."

One IRS employee explained in an email to former IRS official Lois Lerner, who is at the center of the targeting scandal, that the Office Communication Server (OCS) was "not set to automatically save as the standard; however, that functionality exists in the software."

Chaffetz charges in the letter to Obama that the fact that "the IRS did not automatically archive these messages as a matter of course raises questions regarding the agency's commitment to preserving communications and records for congressional oversight or other needs."

The House committee alleges that, according to documents it has obtained of emails written by Lerner, that she "actively sought to hide information from Congress."

"In one email, Lerner spoke of counseling her colleagues 'to be cautious about' what they write in email due to congressional oversight interests in the matter. She wrote:

'I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.'

In the same email, Lerner went on to ask whether the IRS's internal instant messaging OCS system was automatically archived. When told it was not, Lerner responded in one word: 'Perfect.'"

Americans for Tax Reform contends that the IRS officials who were targeting the conservative groups seem to have purposefully used the instant messaging system for the purpose of evading public scrutiny.

This news comes after it was revealed that IRS did not comply with an email preservation order, which resulted in the loss of 24,000 of Lerner's emails. However, thousands of Lerner's emails were later recovered by the inspector general in the course of its own investigation.

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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reporting that the IRS had an instant messaging system that was "wholly separate" from its email system that did not archive communications.
IRS, instant message, archive, Lois Lerner, Jason Chaffetz
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2015-08-28
Tuesday, 28 Jul 2015 03:08 PM
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