Floods force IRS to fly COOP

Flood damage to the Internal Revenue Service’s main building in Washington, D.C., last month was so bad the agency had to activate its emergency continuity-of-operations plan, an IRS official said today in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee’s Federal Workforce and Agency Organization Subcommittee.

“The public should not notice any significant change in their interactions with the agency based on temporary closure of our main office,” said Carl Froehlich, chief of agencywide shared services at the IRS.

On June 25 and 26, torrential rainfall in the Washington, D.C., area flooded the two lower levels of the IRS’ headquarters with more than 3 million gallons of water. The subbasement was submerged in more than 20 feet of water. It contained critical parts of the agency’s electrical, heating and air conditioning systems, which were heavily damaged or destroyed.

Consequently, the IRS established an emergency operations center in the New Carrollton Federal Building in Maryland, the same building the IRS used to coordinate recovery efforts after hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Of 1,142 critical employees, 950 have been assigned temporary work spaces and 176 were teleworking by July 5, according to the IRS. The agency will transition nonessential employees to similar work sites by July 28.

The General Services Administration has performed initial assessments of the physical damage in the IRS building and said restoration might not be completed until January 2007. The IRS will issue an overall damage assessment and recovery report early next month.

The Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Archives and Records Administration also had flood damage.

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