The Inspector General for Tax Administration has discovered that under Commissioner John Koskinen, the Internal Revenue Service re-hired 212 employees it had previously fired for offenses including tax evasion, theft, and abuse of taxpayer data.
The title of the report makes it clear that the IRS “continues to rehire former employees with conduct and performance issues.” The inspection was requested by a U.S. Senator, who is not named in the report, although Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced legislation to block the agency from rehiring such employees shortly after the report was released.
“Whether it is the rehiring of previously terminated employees or continuing to give bonuses to poorly performing executives who can’t be fired – the delinquency at the IRS must end,” Burr declared. “It’s exactly actions like this that erode the public’s trust in their government. The American people are sick and tired of Washington at its worst. We have Americans paying the salaries of IRS workers who have repeatedly cheated the very government they took an oath to serve, and a Commissioner who won’t fire bad actors. The time to put a stop to these atrocious practices is now.”
As noted in a FedSmith report on Burr’s legislation, this is actually the second time he has attempted to block the IRS from restoring employees it fired for serious offenses. His effort last year was prompted by an Inspector General report very similar to this one. On that previous occasion, Burr noted that one of the employees re-hired by IRS literally had “DO NOT REHIRE” stamped on his or her personnel file.
The office of the Inspector General (TIGTA) is painfully aware that little improvement has occurred since last year’s report. In fact, the new publication notes with dismay that “nearly 300 of the 824 employees identified in the prior report were still employed by the IRS as of May 2016.”
Also, TIGTA notes that IRS is already required by federal law to consider prior conduct issues when rehiring terminated employees, under the IRS Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. Evidently that law is simply ignored, or rendered null and void by inept employment procedures.
The new report describes bureaucratic buffoonery that would be amusing, if the money and sensitive data of American taxpayers were not on the line. For example, IRS has an extensive “ALERTS” database filled with records of employee misconduct… but the people who actually make hiring decisions do not have access to it. A few dozen of the problematic rehired personnel were able to evade IRS employment screening by simply forgetting to mention they were previously terminated for cause by the agency.
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