Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Democrats: The IRS Probe Has Cost Taxpayers $14 Million So Far

ARCHIVES
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform panel, on Tuesday sent a letter to the attorney for Lois Lerner, the since-departed head of the Exempt Organizations division, recalling her to testify. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform panel, on Tuesday sent a letter to the attorney for Lois Lerner, the since-departed head of the Exempt Organizations division, recalling her to testify. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Since the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service related to granting tax-exempt status to certain organizations broke last May, the hundreds of hours of congressional hearings and agency document reproduction have cost the agency immeasurable prestige, person-hours and scarce funds. 

But, as of Wednesday, there’s an actual price tag: $14 million.

That’s the figure released by Reps. Sander Levin of Michigan and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrats on the Ways and Means and Oversight and Government Reform committees, respectively.

A letter from Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen documents “the significant funds expended by the IRS in responding to congressional inquiries to date, including $8 million in direct costs—such as salaries, benefits, and travel—and an additional $6 million to $8 million to add capacity to information technology systems to process materials to investigators.”

In response to a Feb. 7 request from the lawmakers, Koskinen said a “conservative approach” tallies up 255 employees who’ve spent 97,542 hours to date, which does not factor in “ancillary support costs,” such as indirect work by the IRS offices of Legislative Affairs, Public Affairs, Human Capital, and the Executive Secretariat.

A half-million pages of documents have been turned over to Congress, and 35 former or current IRS employees have given interviews to Capitol Hill staff. 

“After one of the most far-reaching investigations in recent history—spanning multiple House and Senate Committees that obtained hundreds of thousands of documents and interviewed dozens of officials—there is absolutely zero evidence of political motivation or White House involvement,” Levin and Cummings said in a statement. “Despite this fact, Republicans remain fixated on falsely accusing the White House of targeting its political enemies, wasting millions of dollars in an attempt to reignite their partisan inquiry before the November elections.”

Republicans, for their part, on Wednesday announced a hearing for March 5 that could get to the heart of what happened when the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division over the past several years began delaying and subjecting to extra scrutiny applications for tax-exempt benefits from mostly conservative nonprofit groups.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform panel, on Tuesday sent a letter to the attorney for Lois Lerner, the since-departed head of the Exempt Organizations division, recalling her to testify.

Lerner last May appeared before the panel but spoke only briefly to declare her innocence and then invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.

“Ms. Lerner’s testimony remains critical to the committee’s investigation,” Issa wrote. “Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show that she played a significant role in scrutinizing applications for tax exempt status from conservative organizations. Documents also show that Ms. Lerner participated in ‘off plan’ work to develop rules that would allow the IRS to stifle constitutionally-protected political speech by nonprofit groups. Ms. Lerner’s testimony will allow the committee to better understand how and why the IRS targeted certain organizations.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.