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

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

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

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

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