July 30,2014

Press Contact:

Aaron Fobes/Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515

Timeline of IRS Communications with Congress

How many employees experienced a computer/data problem?

  • June 13 – One employee.  IRS sends Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch a letter which states that Lois Lerner’s computer crashed in mid-2011 and that emails and other information stored on the computer hard drive was lost and is not recoverable.   The letter does not mention that any other IRS employees may have lost data relevant to the Committee’s investigation.
  • June 16, 1 p.m. – One employee.  IRS staff provide further details to Senate Finance Committee (SFC) staff about Lerner’s computer crash.  There is no mention of any other computer crashes.
  • June 16, 2:30 p.m. – Up to seven employees.  After meeting with SFC staff, IRS staff meet with Ways and Means (W & M) staff to provide further details regarding Lerner’s computer crash.  During that meeting, IRS staff inform W&M staff that six other IRS employees involved in the SFC investigation into political targeting had computer issues which may have resulted in data loss.
  • June 16, 5 p.m. – One employee.  Commissioner Koskinen and IRS staff meet with Chairman Wyden, Ranking Member Hatch, and SFC staff and provide further details about Lerner’s computer crash.  There is no mention of any other computer crashes.
  • June 24 – Up to 10 employees.  Commissioner Koskinen tells Senator Hatch that, in addition to the seven employees identified to W&M staff, three more IRS employees involved in the SFC investigation may have experienced computer issues that resulted in data loss. 
  • Week of July 21 – Fewer than 20 employees.  IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane tells Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) staff that some number of IRS employees involved in the SFC investigation, fewer than 20, had computer issues. 

When did the IRS first learn that Lerner’s emails were missing?

  • March 19 –The IRS sent a letter to the SFC stating that the enclosed documents “completes our production to your committee … of documents we have identified as related to the processing and review of applications for tax-exempt status ….” The letter did not mention that the IRS had lost any relevant records.
  • March through June – SFC staff repeatedly request that Commissioner Koskinen provide a signed certification, stating that the IRS has fully complied with the Committee’s document requests.
  • June 11 – SFC staff send an email to IRS staff requesting that Commissioner Koskinen produce a signed certification before the SFC issues its report. 
  • June 12 – In response to SFC email, IRS staff indicate that they are working on a signed certification.
  • June 13 – IRS first informs Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch of the loss of Lerner emails, but does not specify when the IRS first became aware.
  • June 16 – Commissioner Koskinen tells Senators Hatch and Wyden that he knew about missing emails “about three weeks” earlier.
  • June 18 – The White House indicates that in April 2014, Treasury’s Office of the General Counsel informed White House Counsel that the IRS found very few emails for Ms. Lerner before April 2011 and was investigating the issue.
  • June 19 – Commissioner Koskinen testifies before OGR and states that he knew about an issue with Lerner’s emails in February, but did not know the full extent of the problem until April. 
  • July 22 – In a letter to the Department of Justice, OGR discloses statements from IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Thomas Kane which indicate that on February 4, Counselor to the IRS Commissioner Kate Duval learned that Lerner’s hard drive crashed in 2011 and that Lerner emails may be missing.  OGR further discloses that other senior IRS officials knew of that data from Lerner’s was unrecoverable in mid-February. 

What happened to Lerner’s hard drive?

  • June 16 – IRS staff tell SFC staff that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was recycled.
  • June 20 – Commissioner Koskinen testifies before the W&M Committee that Lerner’s hard drive was destroyed.
  • July 2 – Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) staff tell staff of the SFC, W&M Committee and OGR Committee that the whereabouts of the hard drive is not yet known but that it may exist.
  • July 18 – IRS Deputy Chief Information Officer Stephen Manning represents in a declaration that Lerner’s hard drive was degaussed (erased), batched with other items, and eventually shredded.  
  • July 23 – Commissioner Koskinen says that he personally has no new information about the location of the hard drive and that he has no reason to believe that his previous testimony about its destruction was inaccurate.  

If Lerner’s hard drive could be located, is it possible to recover data?

  • June 13 – IRS tells Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch in a letter that attempts to recover data from Lerner’s hard drive in 2011 were unsuccessful.
  • June 16 – IRS staff reiterate to SFC staff that the IRS attempted to recover data from Lerner’s hard drive but that it was not recoverable.
  • Week of July 21 – An IRS technician tells W&M investigators that Lerner’s hard drive was only scratched and that the data might have been recoverable.  

What happened to the IRS backup tapes for emails on their server?

  • June 16 – IRS staff represent to SFC staff that backup tapes of emails are only retained for six months and therefore no backup tapes of Lerner’s missing emails from 2010-11 exist.
  • June 20 – Commissioner Koskinen testifies before the W&M Committee that the IRS has confirmed that email backup tapes do not exist.
  • July 2 – TIGTA tells staff of the SFC, W&M, and OGR Committees that it has located email backup tapes and was examining the tapes to see if Lerner’s data was recoverable.
  • July 23 – Koskinen testifies before OGR that some email backup tapes have been found. 

Did IRS follow Federal recordkeeping laws?

  • June 20 -- In written testimony to W&M, Commissioner Koskinen indicates that the IRS followed all recordkeeping laws and that email systems were not designed to preserve records.
  • July 10 -- In a letter to the SFC Committee, the National Archivist indicates that the IRS was legally obligated to disclose any loss of records to the Archivist and that the IRS did not communicate the loss of Lerner’s emails to him.

Did Lerner know about IRS recordkeeping policies?

  • Generally, IRS recordkeeping policies require employees to print out and keep any email that constitutes a record.
  • In its 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 annual reports to the National Archivist, the IRS said that senior staff were trained in recordkeeping policies and that all employees would have had training available. 
  • Lerner’s lawyer claims that she was not aware of these policies and that she did not print emails for recordkeeping.