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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

May 10, 2012
TIGTA - 2012-19
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062

IRS Whistleblower Program: Improved Oversight Is Still Needed, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service's Whistleblower Program Office has still not fully and adequately addressed internal problems that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) identified several years ago, according to a new TIGTA report released publicly today.

The IRS has the authority to pay awards to whistleblowers for credible information relating to violations of Internal Revenue laws that result in the Federal Government's recovery of taxes, penalties, interest, and additional amounts collected as a result of information whistleblowers provide. The IRS's Whistleblower Program Office was created in 2007 to manage and track whistleblower claims from initial receipt to final closure, including determining appropriate award amounts.

In August 2009, TIGTA issued a report citing deficiencies in the IRS's internal controls and timely resolution of whistleblower claims. The objective of the report released today was to follow up on the adequacy of the corrective actions the IRS agreed to take on the Fiscal Year 2009 reported internal control weaknesses.

In this review, TIGTA auditors determined that the IRS did not fully and adequately address the prior reported internal control weaknesses on the processing of whistleblower claims. In the prior report, TIGTA found that information captured on three inventory systems was inaccurate. In this review, auditors determined that employees manually transferred claim information from the three systems into a single inventory control system, Entellitrak. However, IRS officials did not ensure steps were taken to reconcile and correct the inaccurate information that was reported in our Fiscal Year 2009 review.

TIGTA also determined that Whistleblower Program officials did implement a quality review process to ensure claims are accurately controlled in the Entellitrak system. However, guidance to employees did not specify that employees review the received date of a claim, which is critical when reporting business results to internal and external stakeholders.

During this review, TIGTA also determined that timeliness standards for processing claims have not been fully established, and the existing monitoring process was not fully developed to improve efficiencies with processing whistleblower claims in the IRS operating divisions.

"Without adequate oversight of whistleblower claims, the IRS is not as effective as it could be in responding timely to tax noncompliance issues," said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "The IRS's effort to improve compliance is critical to reducing the Tax Gap and maintaining the integrity of the voluntary tax compliance system."

In August 2011, the Government Accountability Office issued a report on the IRS's Whistleblower Program that included eight recommendations. These recommendations focused on the IRS collecting more information in its claim tracking system and case processing activities, and incorporating more data when reporting on the effectiveness of the Whistleblower Program.

TIGTA made no recommendations in this report because the IRS Whistleblower Office is addressing the Government Accountability Office's August 2011 report recommendations. The IRS plans to fully implement its corrective actions to the Government Accountability Office report by October 15, 2012.

Read the report.


Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.

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