Internal Revenue Service:

Employee Views on Integrity and Willingness to Report Misconduct

GGD-91-112FS: Published: Jul 24, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees' views on IRS efforts to: (1) promote a climate of integrity awareness; and (2) encourage reporting of misconduct without fear of retaliation.

GAO found that: (1) the 81-percent response rate to the surveys it mailed to 2,700 full-time IRS employees allowed it to project results to the universe of all IRS employees; (2) two-thirds of employees believed that the level of integrity was high or very high, while 10 percent of employees characterized it as low or very low; (3) more employees believed that misconduct occurred at lower ranks than at higher ranks; (4) although 75 percent of employees were aware that they could report misconduct to local IRS inspectors, many were not aware of other places to report misconduct; (5) many employees, especially those in the lower ranks, were not aware of IRS efforts to improve integrity; (6) 93 percent of employees who did not fear retaliation were willing to report misconduct; (7) less than 25 percent of employees believed that IRS encourages them to a great extent to report misconduct; (8) a third of employees believed that those who reported misconduct are retaliated against to some, little, or no extent; (9) only 23 percent of employees believed that IRS was willing to ensure to a great extent that retaliation does not occur; (10) less than a third of employees had great confidence in the independence or high quality of IRS inspections or Department of the Treasury Inspector General investigations; and (11) 23 percent of employees believed that senior management fostered to a great extent a climate for taking action against employees who breach ethical standards.

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