The Dog Ate My Emails

Every year, countless Americans struggle to keep records, receipts, and statements to accurately report their taxes to the IRS. This is due to the fear of facing an audit if something is found to have been misplaced or misreported. The Internal Revenue Service apparently does not share this habit of careful record collection.
It is a rough situation as is, with the IRS falling under scrutiny after accusations that they targeted certain conservative non-profit organizations came to light back in 2011. After asking for months for previous IRS commissioner Lois Lerner’s emails, it has only come to light in the last two weeks that these emails were supposedly lost due to a hard drive crash.
This revelation has caused many on the Right to cry conspiracy. In order to clear the air, Lerner provided her emails with the Information Technology Department. The problem is these emails only express her desire to retrieve “personal email files” and mention nothing of relevance.
This would be only a minor hiccup if all the emails are backed up on tapes right? Well, in a letter sent to the oversight committee by the IRS on June 13th, 2014 it was brought to light that even backup tapes didn’t exist because they had been “recycled.”
Though many of Lerner’s emails are missing, some actually have been found. One string of emails indicated that Lerner had possibly attempted to target sitting U.S. Senator Grassley for further IRS examination. Through an invitation mix-up, Lerner had discovered that the organization was asking if they needed to provide Senator Grassley’s wife dinner at the event. Though she was advised by legal counsel not to initiate a formal investigation, this could be indicative of her general demeanor towards conservatives and conservative groups.
To make the case of insufficient government record keeping even worse, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a day after the IRS scandal came to light that they too were having issue retrieving their emails. The emails in question had been subpoenaed last year and have yet to be turned over to Congress. Their content dealt largely with mine reports in Alaska, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated they had followed the Federal Records Act and answered that “The EPA notified the National Archives and Records Administration about the hard drive problem Tuesday”. 
So why does it matter if government agencies have hiccups when it comes to keeping records? Average citizens struggle with this habit on a daily basis.

This is the same government that wants to have control not only over tax and environmental records, but the nation’s healthcare records as well. We can’t forget the 1.5 billion dollar data collection center being built by the National Security Agency out in Utah either. This center can hold decade’s worth of citizens’ information, records, and everyday communications. If the federal government cannot keep track of one person’s emails, what is going to happen when it is tracking an entire nation’s?
The American People have to wonder if there truly is a lack of record keeping experience in these agencies or if they are simply feeding us “the dog ate my emails” excuse to avoid giving over incriminating emails.
I understand that federal agencies are staffed by human beings who, like any of us, will sometimes make mistakes. However, the pattern forming around federal record keeping suggests to me that something more insidious than mere forgetfulness may be at work.
Content published on the Young Americans for Liberty blog is only representative of the opinions and research of the individual authors. It does not necessarily reflect the views, goals, or membership of YAL.
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