TIGTA Seal graphic

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


February 5, 2015
TIGTA - 2015-03
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

Additional Consideration of Prior Conduct and Performance Issues Is Needed When Hiring Former Employees

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rehired hundreds of former employees with prior substantiated conduct or performance issues, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Most rehired employees do not have performance or conduct issues associated with prior IRS employment. However, TIGTA identified hundreds of former employees with prior substantiated conduct or performance issues ranging from tax issues, unauthorized access to taxpayer information, leave abuse, falsification of official forms, unacceptable performance, misuse of IRS property, and off-duty misconduct.

The overall objective of this review was to identify whether the IRS’s processes for hiring former employees are consistent with Office of Personnel Management (OPM) suitability standards and whether prior substantiated or unresolved conduct and performance issues are identified and fully considered in the hiring decision.

TIGTA reviewed a random sample from more than 300 employees with significant prior performance or conduct issues who were hired between January 2010 and July 2013 and determined that the IRS appropriately applied OPM suitability standards (e.g., determining whether applicants had prior criminal activity, material false statements, or illegal drug use).

“Based on the types of prior performance and conduct issues we identified, rehiring certain employees presents increased risk to the IRS and taxpayers,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

TIGTA found that nearly 20 percent of the rehired former employees sampled with prior substantiated or unresolved conduct or performance issues had new conduct or performance issues (such as tax noncompliance or unauthorized access to tax account information).

During the audit, IRS officials stated that prior conduct and performance issues do not play a significant role in deciding the candidates who are best qualified for hiring and that they believe they are applying OPM suitability standards appropriately. In addition, IRS officials stated that

the OPM and IRS General Legal Services should be consulted to determine if full consideration of prior conduct and performance issues violates Federal regulations.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS Human Capital Officer work with General Legal Services and the OPM to determine whether and during what part of the hiring process the IRS can fully consider prior conduct and performance issues.

IRS management agreed with the recommendation and stated that they had already requested written opinions from General Legal Services and the OPM but believe that the current process is adequate to mitigate any risks to American taxpayers. However, TIGTA remains concerned because IRS records indicate it is hiring individuals with significant prior conduct and performance issues.

Read the report.

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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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