Oversight Chair: IRS ‘Simply Refuses To Admit’ It Should Not Have Rehired Problem Ex-Employees

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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The IRS is rehiring problem employees and the commissioner is offering no solutions according to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

In its Dec. 30 report, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that between 2010 and 2013, 11 percent of the 7,168 employees the IRS rehired between Oct. 2009 and Sept. 2013 had personal and conduct issues in their work histories.

The work problems included absenteeism, the falsification of various documents and the improper viewing of personal tax information. TIGTA expressed concern over the rehiring of troubled employees given that agency’s work with sensitive personal taxpayer information.

After the report was released, Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, who was appointed oversight chairman in December, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Feb. 6 asking for more detail on the rehires and on the IRS’s hiring processes.

In his response, obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller, Koskinen stopped short of admitting that the taxing agency has a problem with rehiring tainted workers.

Replying to Roskam’s question about 11 rehires who had been caught improperly viewing personal tax information, Koskinen explained that 10 of those had attempted to browse their own tax data. The violations were reported to management, Koskinen noted, adding that the IRS has systems in place which prevent employees from viewing their own tax information. (RELATED: Report: IRS Re-Hired Problem Employees)

Asked whether the IRS considers prior conduct and performance issues when evaluating rehires, Koskinen answered in the affirmative.

“We consider prior conduct and performance issues before making a final offer to a candidate,” Koskinen wrote, though he added that “the IRS does not have a specific policy on explicit recommendations related to a former employee’s record.”

While claiming that the IRS appreciated TIGTA’s feedback, Koskinen wrote that “however, it should be noted that TIGTA identified issues with only a few hundred of the 1.8 million total applicants for IRS jobs and more than 7,000 employees rehired between fiscal year (FY) 2010 and FY 2013.”

“The IRS takes those issues very seriously and will continue to look for opportunities to improve the hiring process,” Koskinen wrote.

Roskam was concerned about Koskinen’s response to the question of whether the IRS needs to reassess its current hiring process for former employees.

“Although timely, the IRS’s response is remarkable in that the agency simply refuses to admit that it was not smart to rehire people it had previously fired for misconduct or poor performance,” Roskam said in a statement to TheDC.

“The IRS should immediately take concrete steps to ensure deficient former employees are not rehired. This and other common sense reforms are an important down payment the IRS must make to begin rebuilding the trust lost by its string of recent abuses against taxpayers.”

TIGTA’s concern — that rehires with sketchy prior work histories could pose a future problem — was not unfounded. The watchdog’s report found that out of the 323 former employees hired between Jan. 1, 2010, and July 27, 2013, who had prior conduct or performance issues, “nearly 20 percent had new conduct or performance issues, such as tax noncompliance, attempted unauthorized access to tax account information, and leave abuse, while others had new legal or off-duty issues, such as bankruptcy.”

“This is significant because the time spent by IRS managers addressing performance and conduct issues is time taken away from serving taxpayers and enforcing the tax law,” TIGTA asserted.

Koskinen Response to Roskam

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