Don't Mess With the SES

In a sharply worded letter to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Carol Bonosaro, the president of the Senior Executives Association, has warned him not to ignore a statute protecting career executives' jobs when a new commissioner is chosen for the IRS.

Bonosaro and SES general counsel G. Jerry Shaw wrote in a March 25 letter that they were disturbed by comments made by a Treasury official at a Tax Institute gathering in which the official announced that the department "should not have to put up with the current legal restrictions on movement of career executives when a new commissioner is appointed," the letter said.

When a new political appointee takes the helm at an agency, the law mandates a 120-day "get acquainted" period in which political appointees may not remove or transfer senior executives against their will.

"There is no better way to create a truly demoralized organization, one that is frozen in its tracks, than to announce that a new 'business' manager is going to come in and reassign career executives willy nilly," Bonosaro wrote.

The law already allows political appointees to reassign career executives as long as the executives agree to move. A 15-day notice is required for reassignments that do not require relocation and a 60-day notice is required for relocations.

Bonosaro asked Rubin to publicly assure the 150 IRS senior executives that the 120-day moratorium will be honored.

"We look forward to the earliest possible response from your office and to assurance that career executives at the IRS will be treated as a valued human resource, instead of as human fodder," Bonosaro wrote.

A Treasury spokeswoman said the department would not publicly release a response from Rubin because Treasury views the communication as two-way, not public. The association said it has not received a response.

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