Union opposes nomination of Treasury official to IRS board

A federal labor union is opposing the nomination of the Treasury Department's fiscal assistant secretary to serve as the designated representative of Internal Revenue Service employees on the agency's oversight board.

In an April 11 letter, the National Treasury Employees Union asked President Bush to withdraw the nomination of Kenneth Carfine to the board.

"IRS employees deserve a meaningful voice on this influential public-private body," said Colleen Kelley, NTEU president. "The clear language of the statute setting up the board refers to the appointment of either a rank-and-file IRS employee or employee representative. The president's nominee is neither and should not be confirmed for this position."

The nine-member oversight board, established by a 1998 law that restructured the IRS, plays an important role in reviewing IRS operations and policies, and in making recommendations for improvement, including those related to its budget. The Treasury secretary and the IRS commissioner both sit on the board.

The current occupant of the employee representative seat is Robert Tobias, director of public sector executive programs at American University and a former NTEU president. The union recommended Tobias' renomination.

"The statutory criterion for the seat I hold on the board is 'a representative of employees,'" Tobais said. "I am unaware of any experience the Treasury executive has representing employees."

The move marks the second time the president has tried to nominate a Treasury executive to the employee representative seat. In 2006, Bush nominated Donald Hammond, former fiscal assistant secretary for the slot. Hammond's nomination was withdrawn after several Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee wrote a letter to Bush opposing the nomination.

Kelley said Congress created an employee representative position on the board to ensure it received an accurate assessment of IRS operations.

"Congress' legislative intent that the IRS oversight board needs the viewpoint of IRS employees to enhance its decision-making is crystal clear," she said. "This nomination disregards the opinions of frontline federal employees."

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Carfine's nomination. The committee did not return calls seeking comment.

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