I haz very particular set of skillz.

Has your week been more evil than stupid, and you'd like to switch that balance a bit? How about "IRS Gives $7 Million No-Bid Contract For Taxpayer Verification TO EQUIFAX." You like that? Sound good? Great! The IRS awarded a $7.25 million no-bid contract to Equifax at the end of September to "verify taxpayer identity" and "assist in ongoing identity verification and validations" at the IRS, according to Politico. Yes, that would be the very same Equifax that admitted last month it had allowed a data breach that let hackers access the private data of 143 million Americans. Seems the IRS wasn't too worried about awarding the no-bid contract to the huge credit agency, even though we now know Equifax had computer security holes you could drive Steve Bannon through. But they had a very good reason, according to the contract award notice:

The notice describes the contract as a "sole source order," meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service. It says the order was issued to prevent a lapse in identity checks while officials resolve a dispute over a separate contract.

News of the contract elicited angry statements from Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and from the committee's ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden, because at least sniping at really stupid IRS decisions is still a bipartisan pursuit.

Over on the Twitter box, Greg Greene, who's done digital stuff for any number of progressive groups, has a fine rant about why this is infuriating, given what was learned about Equifax's shoddy data security in congressional hearings held Tuesday:

The IRS, which if it's learned nothing else after years of Republican hounding has gotten pretty nimble at covering its ass, issued a statement defending the contract and pointing out that everything down there was just fine, and the minor privacy malfunction that led to Equifax's own hack hadn't affected any IRS data at all, no way, and besides, it's only a short-term contract, so there's nothing to worry about, and Equifax really seemed to know what it was doing another time they handled this stuff:

The service relates to assisting in ongoing identity validation needs of the IRS. Equifax provided these identity proofing services to the IRS under a previous contract.

Equifax advised us that no IRS data was involved in their breach. Following an internal review and an on-site visit with Equifax, the IRS believes the service Equifax provided does not pose a risk to IRS data or systems. At this time, we have seen no indications of tax fraud related to the Equifax breach, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Even with that very clear assurance, some congresspeople were not convinced Equifax was the greatest choice to be handling taxpayer data, the big worrywarts:

Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) separately penned letters to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen demanding he explain the agency's rationale for awarding the contract to Equifax and provide information on any alternatives the agency considered.

"I was initially under the impression that my staff was sharing a copy of the Onion, until I realized this story was, in fact, true," Blumenauer wrote.

Equifax had no comment on the story, but we expect internal emails on how to manage the news to show up on 4chan sometime today.

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[Politico / Gizmodo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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