IRS' Efforts to Deal With Integrity and Ethics Issues

T-GGD-91-58: Published: Jul 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) efforts to deal with employee ethics and integrity issues. GAO noted that: (1) IRS has made substantial progress in responding to concerns about ethics and integrity issues, but its actions are only initial steps in a major long-term effort; (2) IRS transferred 21 staff years and $1.9 million to the Department of the Treasury Inspector General (IG) to conduct investigations and oversight; (3) IG effectively developed and documented most of the 127 allegations against IRS employees; (4) although there were no problems with IRS actions in 63 of the cases reviewed, GAO believed that IRS could improve the perception of the fairness of its sanctions; (5) almost two-thirds of the 2,200 employees GAO surveyed believed that the level of integrity in IRS was generally high or very high and 10 percent believed the level of integrity was generally low or very low; (6) 40 percent of IRS employees were not aware of the IRS inspection hotline and 74 percent were unaware of the Treasury hotline for reporting misconduct; (7) although 76 percent of IRS employees said they were willing to report misconduct if they became aware of it, only 23 percent of all employees believed that IRS would protect employees from retaliation for reporting; (8) only 23 of the IRS employees surveyed believed that senior management fostered a climate for taking action against employees who breach ethical standards; and (9) 20 percent believed senior managers received preferential treatment when IRS acts to correct misconduct.

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