The Internal Revenue Service is continuing to rehire employees who were previously terminated from the agency for serious conduct and/or performance issues, according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The TIGTA report, released at the end of July, found that 213 of around 2,000 former employees rehired by the IRS between January 2015 and March 2016 had committed possible offenses — including either serious violations of IRS policy or outright crimes — while working at the department. Some of these employees had access to sensitive taxpayer information.
According to the document, 13 of those rehired employees had previously been terminated from the IRS for falsifying employment forms, and both official and unofficial documents. Two of those employees had repetitively falsified employment forms by omitting prior convictions or terminations, TIGTA found.
Four of the 213 rehired employees were previously terminated or resigned for "willful failure to properly file their Federal tax returns," and another 15 separated from the agency for various other tax issues.
Another four of those who were rehired by the IRS had previously separated from the federal agency while under investigation for unauthorized accesses to taxpayer information, while TIGTA cited 86 employees as having separated due to absence and leave, workplace disruption, or failure to follow instructions.
"One rehired employee had several misdemeanors for theft and a felony for possession of a forgery device, and another rehired employee had threatened his or her co-workers," the report stated.
And although the IRS determined their hiring process was reliable and did not pose a risk to taxpayers, TIGTA found that a number of those employees committed the same offenses upon being rehired. Using a random sample of 90 former employees with conduct issues who were rehired, six of those had conduct or performance issues come up again within only one year.
When studying those who first worked at the IRS during the time period of January 2010 to September 2013, 60 of the 824 rehired individuals had serious employment issues, and five of those went on to have additional conduct or performance issues within nine days to 19 months after coming back to the agency.
"In addition, 60 of the 824 employees we identified in our prior report as having been rehired with prior substantiated employment issues between January 1, 2010, and September 30, 2013, were rehired again between January 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016," the report said. "Of these 60 employees, five employees had additional documented conduct or performance issues substantiated within nine days to 19 months of being rehired. Three of the employees had the same issue in their prior employment."
TIGTA was the same agency who found that between the years of 2010 to 2012, during former President Barack Obama's tenure, the IRS had delayed the processing of certain conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status, specifically targeting those organizations labeled "tea party" or "patriot."
According to the Daily Signal, IRS human capital officer E. Faith Bell agreed to update policies and procedures to address the issues and told the outlet she had created a team to implement corrective procedures.
"To the extent possible by law,” Bell wrote, “the IRS will take all steps allowable to prevent the rehiring of former employees with conduct and performance issues.”
Current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013 shortly after the IRS targeting scandal surfaced, and was criticized for protecting former IRS director Lois Lerner by not notifying Congress of lost evidence surrounding the scandal until it was disclosed in a different court case.
Led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), House Republicans filed a resolution to impeach Koskinen for failing to prevent the destruction of evidence and making false statement to Congress, but the House ultimately voted to send the request back to the Judiciary Committee.
Koskinen's term is set to expire in November, but as he is a presidential appointee, President Donald Trump could choose to remove him from his post at any time.