The Internal Revenue Service took the appropriate actions when an airplane piloted by an irate taxpayer crashed into one of its buildings in Austin, Texas last year.
The pilot, Andrew Joseph Stack III, was killed at the site of the crash. Before setting fire to his home and crashing into the IRS facility with a single-engine plane, he posted an online diatribe against the agency (see Plane Crashes into IRS Building).
The report, issued Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that the IRS adequately prepared for and took the necessary actions to evacuate and protect IRS employees. The agency secured taxpayer data and federal government property, and was able to resume business operations in the aftermath of the incident in February 2010. The crash killed one IRS employee, Vernon Hunter, and injured 13 other employees.
TIGTA conducted its audit at the request of the IRS to determine whether the agency was adequately prepared for and took the necessary actions. The agency has since come under threat from other irate taxpayers.
Effective continuity planning and emergency preparedness can facilitate the IRS's ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, the report found. These efforts include providing personnel services to support employee needs and restoring critical functions.
The IRS provided extensive personnel services on a timely basis to assess and support the needs of the affected employees, according to the report. The agency also identified temporary office space for the affected employees while its Echelon I office building in Austin was being repaired. The IRS also awarded several procurement contracts to support the recovery effort in an expedited time period, and provided the furnishings and equipment needed to resume work within 18 calendar days after the incident occurred.
However, TIGTA auditors determined that emergency planning for the Echelon I building was incomplete, 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 TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George said in a statement. “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 ensure that lessons learned relative to the business resumption plans are applied to the development of the new continuity plans, and include on the lessons-learned document and the incident management plan template the provisions for emergency procurements.
In response to the report, IRS officials agreed with TIGTA's recommendations and described specific progress they have made towards implementing them.
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