Thursday, June 26, 2014

IRS That Spent $4.4 BILLION Of 
Taxpayer's Money On IT Claims 
To Have Suffered Over 
2,000 Hard Drive Crashes 
Just *This* Year Alone

"You can't prove anything. We've destroyed all the evidence!"

Sounds like something I made up?  Allow me to establish the facts: 

1.  The IRS got the $4.4 billion bucks in it's budget for IT spending:

That's just in the past 5 years under President Obama.  Under the years of George W. Bush's presidency, the agency spent $5.3 billion over 8 years.  If you're keeping score, that's $9.7 billion dollars spent on IT in a 13 year period from 2000 to 2013.

2. The IRS claimed to have suffered over 2,000 hard drive crashes in it's computers just this year alone:

Yes, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen actually claimed to the Congressional committee that the IRS had suffered over 2,000 hard drive crashes just this year: 

Now I don't know about you, but if I took over a government agency, and it was brought to my attention that the agencies computers, on which important federal records are stored, were crashing at a rate of about 333 a month, I'd do something about that.  Like, say, make awful sure people were backing up and printing out those important federal records so as to follow the law regarding such things.  

This, apparently, was the only big IT decision made in the past six months at the IRS: 

IRS Cancels Contract With It's Email Backup Service

Absolutely, that's the first thing I'd do upon being made aware that my agency is beset with crashing computers: I'd cancel the contract of the firm that's backing up our emails n' stuff. 

Another fun fact from Koskinen's testimony this week: upon being asked who told him Lerner's emails were missing, he claimed not to remember.  Think of how unbelievable that is.  He got the job because the former head of the IRS had to step down when the scandal broke.  The investigation by Congress has been going on for over a year.  Now somebody comes into your office & tells you emails under subpoena have been destroyed in a hard drive crash.  I think I'd remember who dumped that huge problem into my lap.  Wouldn't you? 

Of course, the moment Koskinen 'remembers' who told him about the missing emails, that person is going to be subpoenaed to come testify.  Which explains why Koskinen is having memory problems.  


  1. Dear IRS:

    Define "hard-drive crashes." Because I get the feeling you define it as anything as simple as what we would call a "freeze", or a "restart." Having said that, Mr. Cates is right--you have that many crashes, you make sure back-ups exist.

  2. Since legally the IRS must report these 'crashes' to the National Archives and Records Administration, as is required of all federal agencies whenever their records are destroyed or even accidentally deleted, I'm sure that all 2,000 of these 'crashes' have been legally reported.

    Time to check this with the Archives Administration, but I'm just sure that the IRS wouldn't have 'forgotten' to comply with this requirement. Would they?

  3. It would be interesting to see what brand of hard drives these IRS types are using. It would then be equally interesting to ask the CTO of say Western Digital (since it is a cinch at least a few of these "failures" are WD drives) what they think of IRS's luck with their drives and whether WD should file suit for defamation of character (or whatever the corporate equivalent is) or offer to help obviously hapless IRS IT personnel figure out how not to kill hard drives something most 10 year olds could figure out after ,say, the second drive dies.

    1. Wouldn't be hard to figure out the supplier. Simply go to the purchase contract, find out who supplied what, when, and from there figure out who made the hard drives.

      I sorta think a CEO- like, in your example, WD- would enjoy throwing the IRS Commissioner under the bus.

    2. Not if they enjoy selling their hard drives to the US Federal Gov't. Wouldn't it be ironic if this company was deliberately pawning off its defective drives to the IRS?

  4. Your post is excellent--thank you--but for the sake of your public image, please note that the possive of "it' is "its," not "it's," for the same reason that we don't write "hi's" and "her's."

    1. Goddamn you, spell check! You've let me down again!

  5. A 2-3% failure rate on hard drives is well within industry standards, even for new drives. Drives fail more often as they get older, up to or beyond 10% yearly for 5+ year old drives.
    On the other hand, data loss from any of those losses is well outside industry standards. This is exactly why RAID and backups exist.

    1. And that fact that all 7 people under subpoena in this scandal had hard drive failures within a short time of each other. The probability is incredibly high, more than a million to one.

  6. In the chart (I don't know if the Beacon did it) I'm pretty sure the legend that says ($=millions) should say "thousands." Other than that, great post.

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