IRS Employee Shortage is Not Due to Lack of Federal Funding

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Monday, May 17th, 2021, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

The IRS has a well-documented workforce shortage. However, this problem is not due to a lack of federal funding but because of the agency’s disorganization, incompetence, and the existence of labor union rules that promote needless bureaucracy.

As noted in the 2020 National Taxpayer Advocates Report to Congress notes, the IRS has failed to hire 5,000 full time employees between 2017 and 2019 which it has been allocated funding for:

“The IRS has been unable to meet its projected hiring each year. Between FYs 2017 and 2019, the IRS failed to hire over 5,000 FTEs for which it had allocated funding.”

One culprit of the hiring problem is the existence of a union contract that requires the IRS to first consider internal applicants before hiring externally. This requirement leads to a “waste of time and resources” and often results in the agency “shuffling existing employees around.” As the report notes:

“In addition to focusing on recruitment efforts, the IRS needs to expand its ability to hire externally. Under the current union contract, the IRS is required to consider internal applicants first for any bargaining unit position vacancy announcement. The result is that the IRS often finds itself simply shuffling existing employees around between positions rather than bringing in new employees. The time spent announcing a position internally first and then having to go through the external process is significant and can be a waste of time and resources.”

The IRS workforce shortage is also due to the inefficient, outdated hiring process run by the IRS Human Capital Office (HCO). As the report notes, this office has not updated its workforce plan in 15 years:

“IRS HCO (Human Capital Office) has known about these human capital challenges for some time, but the IRS had not taken an indepth look at an IRS-wide strategic human capital plan or workforce plan since 2005-2006.”

As a result, the HCO takes an average of 120 days to hire a new employee. This is 50 percent longer than its target goal:

“IRS’s HCO has also adopted this goal of an 80-day hiring cycle time as one of its “Key Performance Measures” for FY 2020.27 This is a reasonable goal, but the IRS continues to fall short. According to information set forth in HCO’s FY 2020 Business Performance Review, its actual hiring cycle time for FY 2020 was approximately 120 days, nearly 50 percent longer than its target goal for the year.”

 While many on the Left argue that the IRS is in dire need of more federal funding, the agency is a poorly run and is in desperate need of reform, not more taxpayer dollars.

Photo Credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

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