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Audit: IRS Does Not ‘Effectively Track’ Computers That Are ‘Recycled Or Donated’

IRS Donates/Recycles Over 100K Computers in 2009-2012.

9:10 AM, Jun 18, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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The results of a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit released Tuesday found that "[w]hile the IRS is complying with GSA requirements to recycle or donate used information technology (IT) equipment, TIGTA found several areas for improvement." The IRS got rid of more than 100,000 computers between 2009 and 2012 by recycling or donating to schools. However, the agency does not "effectively track which equipment is recycled or donated," which made it difficult for TIGTA to measure compliance to General Services Administration (GSA) requirements.

The press release from TIGTA reads as follows:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs to improve its processes for disposing of unneeded computers, printers, and servers, according to a report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). 

TIGTA reviewed the accuracy of the disposal asset inventory and the IRS’s actions taken or planned to fulfill General Services Administration (GSA) requirements. 

While the IRS is complying with GSA requirements to recycle or donate used information technology (IT) equipment, TIGTA found several areas for improvement. According to the report, the IRS needs to: improve documentation to ensure compliance with media sanitization guidelines; report any IT equipment that cannot be located to the Computer Security Incident Response Center as required; and improve documentation of disposal actions. 

The IRS disposed of 63,031 desktop computers and 44,734 laptops between 2009 and 2012 through a combination of recycling and donating to schools. However, it does not effectively track which equipment is recycled or donated, making it difficult to measure compliance with GSA requirements. 

TIGTA made eight recommendations to improve documentation of the removal of all data from IT equipment before it is donated and the equipment’s final destination, and the reporting of lost or stolen equipment. The IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations and is taking actions to implement them.

The report is dated April 25, 2014, but was released publicly Tuesday.

The IRS has been under scrutiny lately for missing emails of former Exempt Organizations Unit director Lois Lerner, whose laptop hard drive crashed in 2011.  The IRS released a statement on Tuesday saying that through other methods of recovery, "the IRS has or will produce 24,000 Lerner emails from this 2009-2011 time period, largely from the files of the other 82 individuals. The IRS’s production to Congress of the 67,000 Lerner emails is nearly complete."

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