Congress Should Pass Rep. Noem's "Ensuring Integrity Within the IRS Workforce Act"

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, January 29th, 2018, 2:39 PM PERMALINK

Under President Obama's watch, the IRS proved that it plays by different rules than the private sector. Not only is the IRS incapable of performing its basic duties, the agency is plagued by corruption, mismanagement, and rampant politicization. 

A simple step President Trump can take in order to clean up the IRS is to force the agency to reexamine its hiring practices [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]. Much of the IRS workforce is seasonal in order to assist the agency during tax season. Between January 2015 and March 2016, the IRS hired 7,500 employees, 2,000 of which had previously worked for the agency.

Evidently, the IRS does not notice or care when an employee has been previously fired by the agency for misconduct in the workplace. According to an independent audit of the IRS by the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), the IRS rehired over 200 employees between January 2015 and March 2016 that had been previously fired for misconduct by the IRS. In other words, a staggering 10% of the IRS’s rehired employees had previously been fired for misconduct by the agency.

The litany of charges against the delinquent employees is vast, ranging from threatening coworkers to illegally accessing taxpayer information and falsifying documents. 7% of rehired employees experienced further misconduct issues within a year of their rehiring.  

The IRS’s negligence in rehiring these employees is egregious. A prior TIGTA report stated that “…one employee was rehired after being removed by management for abusing leave, despite the fact that IRS personnel files included the notation ‘do not rehire.’” The IRS has consistently refused to adjust its hiring practices in response to previous TIGTA audits that uncovered similar misconduct. According to the most recent audit: “IRS officials stated that they did not update hiring policies based on our prior report because…it would be cost prohibitive to do so… However, a formal cost-benefit analysis was not performed to reach this conclusion.”

It is clear that the IRS does not have a comprehensive system to prevent rehiring problematic employees. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has introduced H.R. 3500, the Ensuring Integrity Within the IRS Workforce Act, which would prohibit the IRS from rehiring employees previously fired for misconduct issues. [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]

“This is about having a basic respect for hardworking taxpayers,” said Noem. “If the IRS won’t instill commonsense hiring practices within the agency, we will work to write them into law.”

This bill is a commonsense solution to a problem that shouldn’t even exist in the first place. In a time of declining faith in our institutions, it is imperative to have high-integrity employees dealing with sensitive taxpayer information. This bill is essential in ensuring that employees that have been fired for misconduct don’t get a second chance to wreak havoc. [Read ATR's letter in support of H.R. 3500]

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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