Same here but i work for an insurance company and do searches for legal discovery all the time. We journal everything and keep it forever ( i think it's the same way for most regulated companies now.) It's highly suspicious that they can't find this data. I can find any email sent or received going back many years and i can do it within a week (usually within hours.) either their email/archiving system is completely fucked or someone is not telling the truth. Either way, there should also be a paper record unless Lois was intentionally violating policy.
If someone knows anything about the IRS email architecture it would be helpful. Anyone know what email system they are on? I assume it's Exchange but it wouldn't make much difference if it's Notes/Domino (it might actually make it easier to recover from tape.) they must have some type of email archiving system.
One other thing. from the IRS's own documents, employees are required to make paper copies for FOIA .
Emails as Possible Federal Records
All federal employees and federal contractors are required by law to preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency. Records must be properly stored and preserved, available for retrieval and subject to appropriate approved disposition schedules.
The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media. Emails are records when they are:
Created or received in the transaction of agency business
Appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function and activities, or
Valuable because of the information they contain
If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly. The Treasury Department’s current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization’s files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records. If transmission and receipt data are not printed by the email system, annotate the paper copy. More information on IRS records management requirements is available at http://erc.web.irs.gov/Display...
or see the Records Management Handbook, IRM 1.15.1 http://publish.no.irs.gov/IRM/...
An email determined to be a federal record may eventually be considered as having historical value by the National Archivist prior to disposal. Therefore, ensure that all your communications are professional in tone.
Please note that maintaining a copy of an email or its attachments within the IRS email MS Outlook application does not meet the requirements of maintaining an official record. Therefore, print and file email and its attachments if they are either permanent records or if they relate to a specific case.