And the IRS also released the back-and-forth between Ms. Lerner and Lillie Wilburn, field director for the IRS headquarters’ Customer Support Service Center.

“I checked with the technician, and he still has your drive. He wanted to exhaust all avenues to recover the data before sending it to the ‘hard drive cemetery,’” she wrote on July 20, 2011. “Unfortunately, after receiving assistance from several highly skilled technicians including HP experts, he still cannot recover the data.”…

Two weeks later, she said the drive had been sent to a forensic lab for a final attempt, and a few days after that Ms. Wilburn delivered the fatal news: “The sectors on your hard drive were bad which made your data unrecoverable.”

Ms. Lerner replied with thanks, and her philosophical take that “sometimes stuff just happens.”