Internal Revenue Service:

Status of IRS' Efforts to Deal With Integrity and Ethics Issues

GGD-92-16: Published: Dec 31, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 31, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) response to recommendations it made regarding integrity issues, focusing on: (1) improved employee communication and ethics awareness; and (2) perceptions about IRS disciplinary actions.

GAO found that: (1) since GAO made its recommendations, all IRS executive managers and executives have received at least 8 hours of ethics awareness training; (2) IRS is developing a job-specific ethics training course for all IRS employees; (3) IRS has developed a comprehensive plan to evaluate implementation and review of its Ethics Program; (4) IRS transferred 21 staff years and $1.9 million to the Treasury Inspector General to provide resources for overseeing IRS operations and investigations of wrongdoing to boister public and employee confidence that misconduct will be independently investigated; (5) IRS is investigating procedures to monitor disciplinary actions involving senior IRS officials and IRS inspection service employees; (6) IRS has consolidated database information on cases involving senior IRS officials and other employees, but has not resolved the privacy issues associated with publishing summary information; and (7) IRS expressed concern that periodic reviews of adjudicative actions would put pressure on it to adjudicate on the basis of office to office consistency without taking into account the facts of a case and the reasonableness of the penalty relative to federal personnel case law.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS has taken a number of steps; it has provided at least 8 hours of ethics training to almost 13,000 employees, published hotline numbers, and established regional ethics coordinators.

    Recommendation: IRS should focus attention on improving communications with employees and encouraging ethics awareness.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 1992, IRS published an agency-wide newsletter, providing sanitized examples of improper activities by employees, managers, and executives and sanctions imposed.

    Recommendation: IRS should publicize summary information about misconduct cases and sanctions taken against employees at all levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Automated Labor Employee Relations Tracking System (ALERTS) has been enhanced to provide a comprehensive comparative database on disciplinary actions.

    Recommendation: IRS should use its Automated Labor Employee Relations Tracking System to review adjudicative actions against IRS employees to ensure that sanctions are adequately and equitably applied.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 1992, IRS consolidated the adjudication process for these cases, with all decisions coordinated by Human Resources staff.

    Recommendation: IRS National Office Human Resource staff should oversee adjudication of disciplinary actions involving misconduct by IRS senior employees to eliminate perception of disparate treatment of these cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service: Human Resources Division

 

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