The IRS does not fully comply with certain requirements that agencies ensure that records are retrievable and usable for purposes such as complying with Freedom of Information Act requests, an IG audit has found.

The report noted that the agency recently reported that when responding to requests from external parties, it had determined that some documents had been lost or destroyed, saying the ” IRS’s ability to adequately respond to federal records requests is essential in maintaining the public’s trust and ensuring transparency in government.”

“For example, IRS e-mail retention policies are not adequate because e-mails are not automatically archived for all IRS employees. Instead, the IRS’s current policy instructs employees to take manual actions to archive e-mails by saving them permanently on computer hard drives or network shared drives. This policy has resulted in lost records when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged,” it said.

Other findings included that: a policy designed to archive emails from certain executives was not effective because some executives did not turn on the automatic archiving feature; the IRS did not always ensure that all relevant documents were searched and produced when responding to external requests for records; and that policies for preserving records from separating employees were not adequate.

It said management agreed with its recommendations, adding that a new enterprise-wide email system is being deployed that should enable the IRS to comply with records management requirements, and that it has issued guidance on collecting and preserving federal records when employees separate.