The Internal Revenue Service continues to hire employees with conduct and performance problems, despite the agency’s pledge to improve hiring practices.
According to a report released on Thursday by the Treasury Department inspector general, more than 200 of 2,000 former IRS employees who were rehired between Jan. 2015 and March 2016 were previously “terminated from the IRS or separated while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue.”
Four of those 200 had previously been terminated or resigned for willful failure to file their tax returns; 15 had other tax issues; four were terminated for unauthorized access to taxpayer information; 13 had falsified documents, and another 86 were fired for various workplace infractions, such as absences, workplace disruption, or failure to follow instructions.
Those rehired employees worked in “positions with access to sensitive taxpayer information, such as contact representatives,” the report states.
In its investigation, the inspector general found that past IRS employment history is not provided to hiring officials during the hiring process. Of the more than 200 former employees who were rehired, 27 failed to disclose a previous firing or conviction on their application.
“IRS officials stated that it would be cost prohibitive to review prior issues before a hiring decision and tentative offer has been made,” the report states.
The findings suggest that the IRS has done little to improve its hiring processes since the inspector general conducted a similar study in 2014.
That study found that 824 of the 7,168 former employees rehired between Jan. 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2013, had prior conduct and performance issues.
Last February, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee that the IRS had improved its hiring processes since that study was concluded.
But North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr says that Koskinen has failed to fulfill that pledge. The Republican suggested on Thursday that Koskinen, who came under fire during the Lois Lerner scandal, should be fired.
“The American people learned today that, in spite of denials to Congress, the IRS continues a wholly unacceptable practice of rehiring known bad actors,” said Burr, who requested the inspector general’s latest review of IRS hiring practices.
“In this mind boggling abuse of taxpayer money, we now know that Commissioner Koskinen has failed to stop this practice, even after personal assurances to me that the practice had ended under his tenure.
“Koskinen couldn’t even have his facts right when I asked him for a direct answer in person,” said Burr, adding that: “Koskinen cannot leave fast enough for me.”