updated 6/28/2005 6:45:53 PM ET 2005-06-28T22:45:53

The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it has ordered a full security review of a $20 million contract awarded to ChoicePoint Inc., a data broker under fire for a security breach that let criminals gain access to its database of personal information.

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson ordered the security review of the five-year contract to make sure it will not endanger taxpayer confidentiality, the agency said in a statement. The IRS said it had no security problems during a previous five-year contract with the company.

The arrangement allows IRS auditors and criminal investigators to use ChoicePoint’s databases to locate assets owned by delinquent taxpayers. It’s part of an IRS effort to close a more than $300 billion gap between taxes owed and taxes paid.

ChoicePoint would be given names, addresses and Social Security numbers for data searches. Their employees would be bound by the same federal privacy laws and regulations governing IRS employees.

A few lawmakers criticized the IRS contract decision.

“It is especially galling right now to be rewarding firms that have been so careless with the public’s confidential information,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the IRS should build its own data capabilities so it doesn’t have to rely on data brokers.

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