An enterprise email archiving solution allows emails to be retrieved on demand and ensures messages remain usable. Emails must be produced in the event of an audit and during the legal discovery process. Federal laws require organizations to produce emails, such as when a request is made under the Freedom of Information Act. An email archive is searchable and allows emails to be quickly and easily located and accessed when needed.

Since recovering emails from backups is a long and complicated process, many companies now use an enterprise email archiving solution such as ArcTitan. ArcTitan makes archiving emails a quick and easy process, freeing up valuable storage space on mail servers. Recovering emails is also rapid and straightforward as the archive is searchable. Even large numbers of emails from multiple email accounts can be recovered in minutes. Recovering multiple emails from backups can take several days.

Even though federal laws require emails to be produced on demand, many companies have yet to switch to an email archive and the IRS is not setting a good example. The IRS has recently been discovered to have failed to comply with federal regulations on email storage.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently conducted an audit of the Inland Revenue Service and discovered that IRS policies on email storage do not allow it to consistently ensure records are retained, and that in several cases, the IRS has been unable to produce emails on request.

The audit was requested by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means after the IRS reported that it was unable to produce some documents after receiving Freedom of Information requests. After searching for the documents, the IRS discovered documents had been accidentally deleted.

The auditors determined that emails are not automatically archived for all employees and some employees had been instructed to manually store emails on their hard drives or network drives. As a result, some emails and documents were permanently lost when hard drives were damaged or destroyed.

The audit also showed that even though a new executive e-mail retention policy had been introduced that should have resulted in emails being automatically archived, that failed to happen as some executives did not turn on the automatic archiving feature.

Polices on email archiving were also not applied consistently. The IRS was discovered to have failed to follow its own policies on email archiving in more than half of the 30 Freedom of Information requests assessed by auditors. Had an enterprise email archiving solution been used, all documents and emails would have been recoverable and could have been quickly been located.

TIGTA made five recommendations, including the implementation of an enterprise email archiving solution – which is something that all organizations in the United States should consider. In the event of an audit, Freedom of Information request or lawsuit, all relevant emails can be quickly produced and regulatory fines can be avoided.

An Enterprise Archiving Solution will Help IRS´ Compliance with GDPR

The implementation of an enterprise email archiving solution will also help IRS´ compliance with the EU´s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to be introduced in May 2018. Under the Regulation, the IRS (and any other US organization maintaining the personal data of EU citizens) have a duty to protect EU citizens´ personal data from loss, theft or unauthorized disclosure.

EU citizens also have the right to request access to personal data held by the IRS and a “right to be forgotten” if the IRS no longer has any lawful basis for retaining the data. TIGTA´s audit of email practices within the IRS could not have been more timely, as – should the IRS be unable to produce an email on request or fail to respond to a data access request within thirty days – the Service could be liable for a fine of up to 4% of global turnover. The IRS collected $3.3 trillion in taxes in 2015.