Thursday, June 27, 2013

IRS officials struggle to comprehend their jobs

In yesterday's snapshot, we covered some of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.  Ava covered it last night with "Elijah Cummings -- bald face embarrassment," Wally with "Managing the IRS' real estate portfolio? (Wally)" and Kat with "Was the witness able to understand."

One of the things we focused on in the snapshot was the exchange between US House Rep Jim Jordan and IRS Deputy Commissioner Beth Tucker.  You can see the exchange in the snapshot.

She was one of three people in an meeting with J. Russell George (an Inspector General for the Treasury Department) on May 30, 2012 when George briefed them on his investigation finding that certain 'buzz words' were being used in the tax-exempt division.  The words targeted conservative political groups.*  Tucker agreed with George's testimony -- only she, Commissioner Doug Shulman and Steve Miller (IRS Commissioner who was asked to step down) were in the meeting.

What they were told was in conflict with what Shulman had told the House Ways and Means Committee only months before (March 2012).  She was asked a number of questions but mainly it came down to didn't she feel she had a duty to correct the record?

We'll note this from the exchange:

US House Rep Jim Jordan:  I mean, earlier in your testimony to the Chairman, you said, 'You know it would be helpful if this Committee would share information with us at the IRS about the issue that's in front of the Committee today."  Well it would have been helpful if, once you got that information, you'd have shared it with this Committee. We would have liked to have -- In fact, we're the Committee that asked for the audit in the first place.  We would have liked to have known, six months before an election, May 30th of last year, that targeting was going on.  Did you instruct Russell George to share this information with the House Ways and Means Committee and with the House Oversight Committee?

Beth Tucker: Sir, my --

US House Rep Jim Jordan:  No, that's a question.  Did you tell Mr. George,  'You know this is pretty important information.  We just learned today,' according to your testimony 'this is going on.'  Did you tell Mr. George, 'You know, you might want to share that with the Oversight Committee, specifically since Mr. Issa's the one who requested the audit?" 

Beth Tucker:  No, sir.  That was not my responsibility.  I have responsibility at IRS --

US House Rep Jim Jordan:  Let me ask you this --

Beth Tucker:  -- for our operations.

US House Rep Jim Jordan: But the point is, you were in the meeting.  The other two guys are gone.  Mr. Shulman's gone, Mr. Miller's been fired.  You're the highest ranking official at IRS in that meeting.  You knew about it a year ago.  Didn't you think it was incumbent upon you to set the record straight?  Your boss, Mr. Shulman, had just testified two months earlier and told Congress nothing was going on and he finds out two months later it is going on.  You're the highest ranking official still at the IRS.  You didn't think it was incumbent to come tell Congress what was -- what was taking place?

Beth Tucker: The TG organization does not report to me.

US House Rep Jim Jordan:  Why didn't you correct the record?  Why didn't you just -- Why didn't you just come to Mr. Issa and say, 'You know what? What Mr. Shulman ' -- Did you tell Mr. Shulman he should correct the record?

Beth Tucker:  No, sir.  I did not.

As she goes on, she's saying it wasn't her responsibility and she's saying it was Miller's but she doesn't have that guts to say that.  There are two Deputy Commissioners.  At the time of the May 2012 meeting, Shulman was Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioners were Tucker and Miller.  By repeatedly invoking that it wasn't her job as deputy, she's saying it was the other's job.

That was missed in the hearing, no one questioned her on that or picked up on it.

And she didn't have the brains -- while pointing the finger repeatedly -- to do so obviously.

 She was arguing that the Deputy Commission for Services and Enforcement (that would have been Miller) would have that job, not her.

As we noted yesterday, like any other government employee, she is bound by ethics and she is required to come forward.  She didn't do that.

She also seems confused about her job duties.

The new acting commissioner should probably sit down with Tucker and review the following:  (10-28-2008)
Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support

  1. The Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support provides executive leadership for customer service, processing, tax law enforcement and financial management operations, and is responsible for overseeing IRS operations and for providing executive leadership on policies, programs and activities. The Deputy assists and acts on behalf of the Commissioner in directing, coordinating and controlling the policies, programs and the activities of the IRS; in establishing tax administration policy, and developing strategic issues and objectives for IRS strategic management.
  2. Along with the Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, the following offices report to the Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support:

    1. Agency-Wide Shared Services - see IRM 1.1.17, Organization and Staffing, Agency-Wide Shared Services
    2. Chief Financial Officer - see IRM 1.1.21, Organization and Staffing, Chief Financial Officer
    3. Human Capital Officer - see IRM 1.1.22, Organization and Staffing, Human Capital Office
    4. Office of Privacy, Information Protection & Data Security - visit
    5. Modernization & Information Technology Services - see IRM 1.1.12, Organization and Staffing, Chief Information Officer

 In her refusal to ever come forward, in May 2012 or any day prior to yesterday's hearing that she was asked to appear at, she didn't follow the above and she certainly didn't show "executive leadership."

If you read the job duties that Miller's position as Deputy Commissioner (of Services and Enforcement) would have had, you'll wonder why she kept trying to push it off on him.

Now Shulman may have tasked them, in his role as Commissioner, with certain objectives.  That didn't change what's written down.

Tucker had a responsibility and she didn't live up to it.

[*J. Russel George is not above criticism.  We've criticized him here in the last months.  For his job.  He's now being trashed beyond the scope of his job.  That was in the snapshot yesterday but had to be dropped due to space limitation.  I'll try to include it today.  And this goes to political groups being targeted.  Check our reporting of the Congressional  hearings, community wide, we've always noted it was more just conservative groups being targeted.  George's investigation dealt specifically with conservative groups.  A fact, some are trying to distort as they continue partisan bulls**t games.  It's really past time that the nation started calling this nonsense out.  Congress needs to drop the bickering.]

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