More than 1,000 IRS employees over a two-year period misused their government credit cards, and the agency has a tendency to be overly lenient in disciplining them, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a recently released audit report.
Additionally, the report claims, hundreds of IRS cardholders who had significant financial issues. including non-sufficient funds in their account, bad checks or suspended and charged-off accounts, were never re-evaluated for their security clearances. It says the agency lacks standard policies to refer employees with such issues for revaluation.
"As a result, employees who wrote NSF checks or had suspended or charged-off accounts received little or no disciplinary action in response to their misuse and did not have their background clearances reevaluated for suitability for employment," it says.
CNS News reports that those misusing the cards in the time period documented on the report, which includes fiscal years 2010 and 2011, include an executive-level official, a criminal investigator, and multiple employees with security clearances.
The report notes that the misuse of government charge cards should be an issue the IRS addresses promptly because of what the agency requires of the taxpayers that are funding the cards.
"Of particular concern is the fact that the IRS ask taxpayers to voluntarily pay taxes owed in a timely manner and yet was more tolerant when its employees became delinquent and defaulted on outstanding payments, violated the terms of the Citibank contract, abused a government-provided resource (travel funding), and compromised the integrity of the IRS,” the report says.
IRS employees are only supposed to use the cards for official travel and expenses, and most of the over 50,000 IRS employees with charge cards do, the report says.
The misuse of the cards includes someone else using the card, the employee using the card while not on official travel, purchases from an unauthorized merchant, and failure to pay on time, CNS News reports.
The report says though the IRS in general is effective at controlling the employee's use of the cards, the agency's occasional failure to implement controls increases the chance the cards will be misused.
The IRS has come under fire in recent weeks after it was revealed it blew through $50 million on conferences between 2010 and 2012, including spending more than $4 million on a single California conference in 2010.
For the agency's many critics in Congress, the spending only compounded frustrations which had already mounted over the agency's targeting of conservative groups.