Internal Revenue Service commissioner Douglas Shulman told Federal News Radio that the agency still uses backup tapes for storing hundreds of millions of taxpayer returns dating back to 1950, but it doesn’t have the funding to upgrade the technology.
Shulman said in the interview that while he saw the tapes as reliable security, the time it takes to process returns, especially those submitted via the Magnetic Tape Program in large batches by professional tax preparers, makes the turnover take in excess of two weeks in some cases, during which time there is no data showing a return has even been submitted.
A report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, despite its use of data backup software, the IRS does not properly encrypt all the data it transmits and may be vulnerable to a number of security risks. The report stated that because so few of the security gafs it identified in its last review were resolved, the IRS is at high risk of a data breach both from internal and external sources.
President Barack Obama has requested additional $2.1 billion be allocated to the IRS for IT improvements in next year’s budget, according to Federal News Radio.