IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the House and Ways and Means Committee this morning. The committee has posted Koskinen’s opening statement online here. In his testimony, we learn that in IRS-world, agency emails are not considered records subject to preservation under otherwise applicable law. According to Koskinen, the agency’s “email system is not being used as an electronic record keeping system.”
Koskinen added that “it should be remembered that not all emails on IRS servers or backup tapes qualify as an ‘official record,’ which is defined (in 44 U.S.C. 3301) as any documentary material made or received by an agency under federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and appropriate for preservation. Accordingly, our agency’s email system is not designed to preserve email.”
Whether or not “all emails on IRS servers or backup tapes qualify as official records,” the pertinent question — or rather, one pertinent question — would be whether the lost Lerner emails qualified as official records. Koskinen did not expressly address this point in his opening statement, though he implies a negative answer; I think the contrary is highly likely under the definition that Koskinen himself provides (“any documentary material made or received by an agency under federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and appropriate for preservation” ) and Ed Morrissey quotes the IRS manual in support of the proposition.
There is much more to be said and I trust we will return to the subject. For the time being, we turn the floor over to Paul Ryan (video below). Quotable quote: “Nobody believes you.”