More IRS IT Data “Issues”

| January 21, 2016 | 22 Comments

To paraphrase a great man: “Well, there they go again.” And this time, while it indeed involves the IRS and their IT operations it doesn’t involve screwing with conservative nonprofit groups.

Some time ago, the IRS entered into a questionable $2.2 million contract with a law firm. The law firm was to assist with IRS audit activities – but had little experience in handling IRS audit data, and was very expensive ($1000/hour billing rate). The contract was bad enough to draw Congressional interest – and could well have been both unnecessary and contrary to Federal law, which appears to restrict performance of IRS audit functions to government employees.

The matter apparently became the subject of some form of litigation or investigation. As a result, a Federal judge ordered the IRS to preserve the hard drive used on the personal PC of the IRS’s former director of transfer pricing operations at the IRS Large Business and International Division– and individual named Samuel Maruca. Mr. Maruca (or one of his subordinates) apparently oversaw or influenced the contract in question.

Do I really need to tell you what happened?

Yeah, you guessed it. Contrary to the judge’s order, the IRS wiped the drive – last April, well after the judge had ordered it preserved.

To me, it seems this means either the IRS’s IT folks are spectacularly incompetent – or someone is deliberately trying to hide something.  I can’t see any other plausible explanation for a drive ordered preserved by a Federal judge being wiped after it had been ordered preserved.

But maybe that’s just me.  Feel free to draw your own conclusions regarding why the IRS did this.

Oh, did I mention that this had happened before?  In March 2014, the IRS deleted “hundreds” of backup tapes containing an estimated 24,000 emails from Lois Lernerafter they’d been subpoenaed by Congress.

But remember: this is the “most transparent Administration in history”.  So we’ll shortly be getting a simple, straightforward explanation regarding what happened here  – right?

Yeah, right.  If you believe that . . . please come talk to me about buying this bridge.  I’ll make ya a great deal on it.

Category: "Teh Stoopid", "The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves", "Your Tax Dollars At Work", Government Incompetence, Legal

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  1. In The Mailbox, 01.22.16 : The Other McCain | January 22, 2016
  1. HMCS(FMF) ret. says:

    The IRS has been above the law for years… and under bodaprez, they just seem to take their stupidity to another level as each day passes.

  2. Claymore says:

    I spent some time at the IRS in DC during the late 90’s, on loan from the Dept. of Energy and Martin-Marietta. We were there under contract to assist the agency with project management since they had none in place and were in the middle of a giant technology upgrade across the enterprise. If you Google “Tax System Modernization”, you will see another metric shit ton of government goodness, but I digress. In one particular incident, we were having trouble with one of our computers loading a very finicky piece of project management software, so we were told to call the Service Desk and get a tech who had admin rights to help us install it. That next Monday, this 70 year old woman shows up in our cube and says she’s there to help us install the software. My coworker shows her the computer, hands her the discs and says that we should be back from our project meeting in about 2 or 3 hours. He explicitly told her to just install the software and nothing else. She said “no problem” and we bugged out for our meeting. So, we do our little dog-and-pony show, complete with midgets and a flaming hoop, grab a sandwich from the cafeteria, and head back to the cube. The tech-grannie was still there, looking very concerned, furrowed brow beneath her bifocals. She very crossly informs us that the version of Windows on our BRAND NEW COMPUTER was not IRS standard and so she had re-imaged it…from Windows XP Professional to Windows 95. My coworker hit the effin’ roof. Tech-grannie got mad, huffed up, grabbed her shit and left the computer basically inoperable. Long story short, this old woman had been at the IRS for something like 30 years. She had already threatened to sue them for age discrimination and racism, so they were basically moving her from department to department until she finally decided to retire or die. How she ended up in IT is beyond me, but this was just one shining example of how big a soup sandwich that place is. The fact they’re pissing money down a rat hole doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    • Haywire Angel says:

      OMG Claymore, the dog and pony show comment is outstanding!!

      • Claymore says:

        We had nothing but trouble there. The GS-15 in charge of the effort didn’t want us there and her entire staff hated us. We worked ourselves out of a job when we demanded she sign a change request for a contract award date in the schedule. It was a hard milestone in the project and that schedule went to a Congressional subcommittee for oversight. Our clearances were in jeopardy since we were technically on loan from the Dept of Energy…falsifying information is serious shit, especially when the damn date for the award was published in the Washington Post. We had the accurate date in the plan, but Ms. GS-15 wanted to back the date up to a more attractive point to show better progress. We balked. She got a lower level employee to sign the request and we made the change. We documented the shit out of everything. Two weeks later, they threw us off the project for being uncooperative and insubordinate. We told our contract rep what happened…she turned over all of our documentation to the DoE IG’s office. They couldn’t save our jobs but they did eventually refer the case to the IRS’s IG. When all was said and done, Ms. GS-15 was “allowed” to retire, her staff was demoted and the project office was closed.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      Yup. Another routine day in the federal government!

  3. Claymore says:

    IRS story #2 – While I was in DC, there was a big stink about IRS agents getting new body armor after the agency had shelled out a shitload for armor the previous year. It seems that some of the armor didn’t fit the female agents very well…especially the bucket o’chicken and Twinkie eating agents.

    IRS story #3 – The employee union got all upset about the amount of floor space the contractors were taking up at the building in New Carrollton. They actually had a union rep come in, measure my cubical and then proceeded to ask me why I thought I “deserved” more space than a full time IRS employee.

    IRS story #4 – Not to be out done by the cubical space scandal, the union then turned its attention to parking. You see, it seems as if us nasty contractors got there several hours earlier than the regular employees so we were taking up all of the prime parking spots. A directive was sent out telling us to park on the uncovered lot or we’d be towed.

    IRS story #5 – While working on the Tax System Modernization project, we were told that part of the issue they were having related to the maturity of handwriting recognition software that could scan a tax return, digitize it for storage on some form of electronic media, and have it readable. As one of the PM’s, I started doing some research on the subject, and guess what! The US Postal Service had already dealt with the problem and was willing to demo their solution if we were willing to come to their office. The IRS business owner refused and told us that our job was to manage the project, not assist in the solution. They later cut a huge contract to Loral Systems for the handwriting recognition program…which eventually failed and the contract was cancelled.

    • Bobo says:

      When I worked at L-M, one of the projects running in the same lab area was the UPSP handwriting recognition project. I was an EE who had focused on processes and automation as an undergrad and got tossed in RF stuff because of my clearance, so I used to stare lovingly at the USPS project while I tried to figure out how to improve antennas and receivers.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      I used to be a contractor. #3 and #4 ring painfully true. Heck, at least you had a cubicle! I had to float around desks, taking the desk of a guvvie who was off that day.

      Fed govt really shits on their contractors.

      • Claymore says:

        They literally shoved four of us into one cube…and then we had to make room for our E-size plotter that our company bought. It was a tad cramped, to the point that we all worked different schedules so no more than three of us were in the office at the same time. Guess what the IRS employees got pissed about when they came by looking for someone who was out of the office on their alternate schedule day.

  4. Claymore says:

    IRS story #6 – IRS was trying to implement an electronic lockbox feature so taxpayers could essentially go to their bank and transfer funds directly to the IRS. Remember, this was late 90’s, so all the shit we take for granted today was all vaporware at the time. In any case, the Atlanta Service Center was tasked with the actual coding of the solution while the DC office handled project controls and the liaison duties of working with the banks. The project is trundling along with each side coding their solutions independently when a big meeting is scheduled in DC to showcase the work completed to date. The banks all show up, connect a laptop to a projector and proudly show off their Windows-based .NET and C+ program with all of these cool screens and interfaces. The IRS program manager pops a gasket…her team had been coding everything in DOS.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      ‘Vaporware’. Heehee! I remember that word. I had just come off the A: and B: drives to Windows 97, and everything was ‘off in the future’ some place.

      I look back on it now with nostalgia for a simpler time, when nobody snooped your e-mail at work.

    • MustangCryppie says:

      “The IRS program manager pops a gasket…her team had been coding everything in DOS.”

      And this is the ultimate problem with the federal govt. Instead of letting the experts in private industry, the bosses give projects to people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.

      The result is Obamacare.

      • Claymore says:

        The IRS tried to tell these banks that they needed to go back to the drawing board and recode their solutions using DOS shells and green screens. The guys from First Union told them to go piss up a rope, that this was a voluntary participation effort at their expense and they were done. The other banks followed suit soon after. I transferred off the project shortly after to assist on another effort that actually had potential and ended up being one of the handful of projects in the overall portfolio that went into production.

    • Bill M says:

      Gee that sounds familiar. I automated my office NoDak to streamline processing of standardization reporting, using a program supplied to every organization involved in the same procedures (and totally documented). The program managed to reduce the error rate in the reports from around 10% down to 0 (programmed in error checking on entry; easy to do and a one-time process). When the inspectors saw it, they fell all over themselves. They actually liked it and recommended it be adopted command wide. Copies went to HQ. When HQ was done with it, the program came back programmed in Basic, no error checking, no documentation, and wouldn’t work on half the computers we had. I washed my hands of it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

  5. Richard says:

    The judge should have ordered a drive image – for example I have used a product called Ghost. The prosecution and defense could independently verify and stipulate that the image matched the original, everybody is happy, and the case and the IRS can go on.

    The judge could order the IRS to hand over the drive to the court. The court could make an image and give it back to the IRS and everybody except the IRS is happy.

    The IRS must have a “greening” process. Image the disk then green the machine. Continue to march.

    Stupid is and stupid does. This court and prosecution has no one to blame but themselves.

  6. B Woodman says:

    Soooo. . .. why ain’t I seein’ or hearin’ about anyone IRS doin’ the perp walk?

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