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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


November 10, 2011
TIGTA - 2011-81
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

The IRS Took Necessary and Appropriate Actions Following Austin Incident, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) adequately prepared for and took the necessary actions to evacuate and protect IRS employees, secure taxpayer data and Federal Government property, and timely resume business operations following an incident in February 2010 in which a single-engine airplane was intentionally flown into the Echelon I building housing IRS employees in Austin, Texas.

Those are the findings of a report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). TIGTA conducted its audit at the request of the IRS to determine whether the IRS was adequately prepared for and took the necessary actions to protect IRS employees, taxpayer data, and Federal Government property and to resume normal business operations following the airplane crash, which killed one IRS employee.

Effective continuity planning and emergency preparedness can facilitate the IRS's ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. These efforts include providing personnel services to support employee needs and restoring critical functions.

The IRS timely provided extensive personnel services to assess and support affected employee needs, identified temporary office space for the affected employees, awarded several procurements to support the recovery effort in an expedited time period, and provided the furnishings and equipment needed to resume work within 18 calendar days of the incident.

However, TIGTA auditors determined that emergency planning for the Echelon I building was not complete, as none of the business resumption plans for the eight business units located at the Echelon I building included all of the required elements. In addition, the salvage contract used to recover documents, including taxpayer data at the incident site, did not include all of the required security provisions and did not contain an official designation appointing a Contracting Officer's Technical Representative.

"These issues did not have a material impact on the IRS's response to the Austin incident," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "Taken as a whole, the IRS's preparation and response ensured that the effect of the Austin incident on IRS employees and tax administration was minimized."

TIGTA recommended that the IRS: 1) ensure that lessons learned relative to the business resumption plans are applied to the development of the new continuity plans and 2) include on the lessons-learned document and the Incident Management Plan template the provisions for emergency procurements.

In their response to the report, IRS officials agreed with TIGTA's recommendations and described specific progress they have made towards implementing them.

Read the report.

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Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.

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