As anyone who watched CSPAN’s coverage of the Congressional hearings involving IRS Commissioner John Koskinen knows, the IRS allegedly did not back up its emails because of lack of funds. It would have cost between $10 million and $30 million (out of a $1.8 billion IT budget) to upgrade their server systems. (This is, of course, refuted by one Congresscritter who asked why they couldn’t have bought those terabyte hard drives off of amazon.com for about $80 per employee, total cost: $7 million.) According to a national archivist, the IRS violated the law on preservation of documentation and emails.
It’s not just that the IRS claims it didn’t have enough money to upgrade its IT systems; it has also been mis-allocating the money already budgeted it it. Via TaxProfBlog, a discussion of how the IRS acted outside of its statutory authority to require licensing of tax preparers, and then, when such a scheme was deemed unlawful, started a voluntary licensing programme in its place.
To state the obvious: if you have the time and money to do stuff outside of your statutory authority, you have the time and money to fulfill your statutory obligations. Why the IRS was spending its time licensing tax preparers, rather than insuring that it met its basic record-keeping requirements, is a mystery.