I live in Tennessee, somewhere between Raccoon Valley and the Cross-eyed Cricket. I'M not the most beltway savvy person. But I've had a real job for the past 25 years. I've worked for some of the most cutting edge companies on the planet. We routinely used applications like Excel to help us identify areas that needed our focus. Or to otherwise help us work as efficiently as possible. The tried and true "most bang for the buck," theory.
My experience suggest that the most probable explanation of what happened at the IRS was that workers merely used filters they believed would identify the "low hanging fruit." Thereby maximizing their time. That's what we did everyday. We couldn't survive if we didn't.
I wonder how many DC reporters and talking heads have ever worked in that kind of environment. A real job as it were. I don't think so. What did they expect, flags for names that included "snowball?" "Rubber-band?"
Hell, if I worked at the IRS, and I witnessed the behavior of the Tea Party and Patriot groups, I'd have done the same. Goodness, these folks were threatening to bring their guns to their rallies, "next time." Remember those? The guns at the rallies? Involvement of folks like Dick Armey? Who in their right minds WOULDN'T" have filtered for those groups.
There was no "targeting." Targeting implies shooting. Stopping. It was normal work done everyday without controversy. There were no audits, and all the groups were approved.
That's likely what happened. And now they can't do that anymore. I hope those "snowball" searches work out well for them.