recommended reading

IRS Seeks to Destroy More Hard Drives -- The Right Way This Time

Lois Lerner's emails were destroyed when her hard drive was destroyed, IRS has said.

Lois Lerner's emails were destroyed when her hard drive was destroyed, IRS has said. // J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Amid criticism of its mishandling of one particular subpoenaed hard drive, the Internal Revenue Service is seeking the help of contractors to destroy another 75,000 storage devices, including 3,225 old hard drives and 5,856 floppy disks.

Since 2008, the agency has amassed half a million pieces of electronic storage media, some that includes personally identifiable taxpayer information, the agency said. Most -- more than 375,000 pieces -- have already been destroyed. But the rest of the magnetic disks, floppy disks, hard drives, USB drives, magnetic tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs and various other memory components await destruction in secure storage facilities.

The IRS wants all old electronic media shipped to a single IRS facility for consolidation and final destruction on a yearly basis, according to new contracting documents.

“The IRS is entrusted with a tremendous amount of sensitive information,” the solicitation said. Properly destroying devices that hold such information will "preserve and enhance public confidence by advocating for the protection and proper use of identity information."

The agency also said it is in the process of “refreshing IRS employees’ awareness of existing policies and procedures” for handling sensitive information. Employees have been asked to review their own digital and paper files for sensitive information they no longer need to have in their possession and decide if this data should be archived or destroyed. They should also properly encrypt or safeguard sensitive information they do need, according to existing policy.

The procurement calls for destruction according to guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Items containing highly secure information should be disintegrated, pulverized, melted or incinerated, probably at a metal destruction facility or licensed incineration facility. Paper and flexible diskettes can be shredded, IRS said.

Less-secure information can be destroyed with on-site mobile destruction equipment. None of the equipment may be used again and the contractor must provide a certificate of destruction.

The IRS has come under fire this summer for several missteps, including reporting that a hard drive containing information that had been subpoenaed months earlier by lawmakers had been destroyed after crashing in 2011. The agency, however, was unable to provide details of the destruction, fueling debate over whether the agency is trying to cover up wrongdoing or simply had dismal information technology processes in place.

The solicitation, which was posted Monday, has a fast turnaround. Responses are due July 25.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.