Congress pressures IRS to suspend Equifax contract

13 October, 2017, 23:51 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Equifax Headquarters

The IRS has temporarily suspended a contract it awarded to Equifax, following reports that the company suffered a second data breach, Politico reports. "The IRS emphasized that there is still no indication of any compromise of the limited IRS data shared under the contract", the agency said. The move means millions of Americans won't be able to establish new accounts to access their online records.

At an October 4 House hearing, IRS officials told lawmakers that a bid for identity management services and e-authentication of taxpayer identities was initially awarded to another contractor, later confirmed to be Experian Information Solutions. The extension was needed because Equifax is the incumbent contract but filed a protest with GAO after it lost the recompete to fellow credit bureau Experian.

Equifax revealed last month that hackers made off with a virtual treasure trove of financial data from as many as 145 million people in the U.S., including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses of customers.

Members of Congress from both political parties expressed outrage over the IRS contract.

"The IRS plans to continue reviewing the security of Equifax's systems during the suspension", they continued, adding, "The agency had previously said its hands were tied and it had to keep the contract with Equifax".

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Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: "Suspending the IRS contract is only the first step".

Equifax protested losing the contract to the US Government Accountability Office on July 7, according to documents.

The Government Accountability Office later disputed the assertion that IRS had no choice, saying contracting law allowed for the agency to start working with Experian by citing urgent and compelling circumstances that would significantly affect the interests of the USA government.

Equifax issued a statement Friday that said, "We remain confident that we are the best party to perform the services required in this contract".

We have reached out to Equifax for comment and will update this story if and when they respond. We are engaging IRS officials to review the facts and clarify available options.

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