Lost IRS Emails Actually Make Sense Jordan Sillars June 19, 2014 COS Project Team, News We published an article on June 3 in which we explained how bureaucracies are fundamentally flawed: Unlike a business, a bureaucracy is not directly funded by the people it purports to serve. The Virginia DMV, for example, doesn’t “earn” more or less money based on how many people walk through its doors and utilize its services. Thus, bureaucrats have very little incentive to produce a good product or service, or manage their funds responsibly. This means that no matter how well a bureaucracy is managed, it will always tend towards corruption and poor service. The most recent IRS scandal in which that austere institution somehow lost two years’ worth of emails perfectly exemplifies such corruption and incompetence. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the IRS claims to have lost thousands of emails pertaining to the investigation into the agency’s targeting of Tea Party organizations and other groups. They say the emails were lost when former agency manager Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed. They’ve been searching for the emails on other IRS employees’ computers, but it’s difficult to know. Only two conclusions can be drawn from this fiasco, both of which are equally condemning and equally predictable. The first is that the IRS is horribly, disgustingly incompetent. The Internal Revenue Service is a massive government entity. It possesses vast amounts of financial and human resources and holds the livelihoods of thousands of Americans in its hands. And yet, apparently, its managers didn’t think to install a system to back up their employees’ computer hard drives. The national office of the Convention of States Project isn’t large or particularly high-tech. But we back up every computer’s hard drive, both in a cloud and on local external hard drives. Taking such safety measures is basic common sense, and the fact that the IRS didn’t think to install the same precautions is unconscionable. (Side note: According to a CNN article, “[IRS Commissioner John] Koskinen points to the agency’s $10 million, 250-person hunt for Lerner’s e-mails and says the IRS wants to complete this investigation as much as anyone.” Does that seem reasonable to anyone? Does it really cost $10 million taxpayer dollars to search for emails? We don’t know all the details, but Koskinen’s proof of his agency’s dedication somehow isn’t very comforting.) The second conclusion, of course, is that the IRS is purposefully withholding particular emails that would implicate it in the current congressional investigation. It’s an unfortunate conclusion, but one which more and more people have been drawing the longer this situation has lasted. But, really, we shouldn’t be surprised. Bureaucracies have little incentive to be competent or responsible. They’ll continue to receive funding, no matter how many emails they lose or investigations they obstruct. The real surprise is that it’s taken so long to come to these conclusions. How many scandals will it take before we understand that expanding government bureaucracy is not the way to solve this nation’s problems? How long before we realize that corruption and incompetence are inevitable within such institutions? Fortunately, Americans across the country have decided to do something about it. As the Convention of States movement continues to grow, bureaucratic reform may be just around the corner.