- Running on empty: EPA slashes biofuel goals because of ethanol shortage
- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
New IRS chief sets out to win confidence
One goal: Serve with impartiality
The new acting IRS commissioner pledged Thursday to work to safeguard citizens’ private information and tax dollars and ensure that the agency acts impartially as it looks to move forward after a bruising few weeks.
Danny Werfel, with about two weeks on the job under his belt, addressed questions from members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for much of Thursday afternoon on the lightning rod issues of a recently-disclosed $4.1 million agency conference and the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status
Mr. Werfel said he is not aware of any systematic targeting of particular groups still going on within the agency.
“I’ve been here two weeks — there’s a lot to cover,” he said. “But I also would clarify that at this point in time I’m not aware of it because if I was, it would be stopped and you would be made aware.”
He said he’s had enough time to make some “very critical conclusions” since taking the job following the resignation of former acting commissioner Steven Miller.
“The three most important risks that I’ve learned so far in two weeks that we need to manage and keep at [a] very low risk level are the risk that the taxpayers would feel like their information is not well-protected, the risk of the IRS acting with partiality and not being impartial, and the risk that we’re not keeping our costs down,” he said.
Part of the agency’s improvement plan, he said is “to make sure we’re hitting it out of the park on those three issues.”
Committee members certainly didn’t treat Mr. Werfel with kid gloves, but they ripped into Faris Fink, the agency’s Small Business/Self-Employed Division Commissioner who appeared as Mr. Spock from “Star Trek” in a widely mocked video shown to employees at the $4.1 million conference in Anaheim in 2010.
“Federal workers around the country should be appalled that there were two standards,” said panel Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican. “And as taxpayers, we should be appalled that there are two standards — one for us and a different one that works for the IRS in some cases.”
Mr. Fink said the division has 24,000 employees and 30 percent of the managers were new, but that “in hindsight, many of the expenses incurred should have been more closely scrutinized or should not have been incurred at all.”
The subject of the hearing was the IRS “spending culture,” some of which was detailed in a recent inspector general’s report.
On Wednesday, the IRS put two officials on administrative leave for their involvement in the 2010 conference. The report released this week highlighted the conference, but also pointed to more than 200 other conferences the agency held over the last two years that had 50 or more employees in attendance.
The agency said it’s taken steps to cut conferences and control costs since 2010.
Indeed, while the agency spent $37.6 million on conferences in 2010, it spent only $6.2 million in 2011 and just $4.9 million in 2012. The number of conferences and overall attendee numbers also dropped.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Supreme Court pushes consideration of N.J. gun case to April 25
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- Michael Bloomberg charts $50M challenge to NRA: 'Got to make them afraid'
- McAuliffe's PAC off to fast start, with $254,000 raised in two weeks
- Virginia Republican Bob Marshall stands by remarks that raise eyebrows
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Russian bombers buzz U.K. airspace; jets scrambled to chase off 'Bears'
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- ISTOOK: Obama's sleight of hand hides hidden government's work
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014