IRS Taps Executive to Restore Integrity in Scandal’s Wake

The Internal Revenue Service has appointed David Fisher, chief financial officer of the Government Accountability Office, as a senior executive to help the tax agency recover from the controversy over its scrutiny of small-government groups.

Fisher will be charged with improving internal controls and “restoring the integrity of IRS operations,” Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, said in a statement yesterday announcing Fisher’s appointment as the agency’s chief risk officer and senior adviser.

“His role in the government financial community, bolstered by his significant achievements and his willingness to ensure the organization’s goals are served, has prepared him well to assume this position,” Werfel said. The Government Accountability Office is the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress.

Four congressional committees and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating the IRS’s extra scrutiny of groups with “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names when they were applying for tax-exempt status.

Forced Out

Already, three IRS officials have left their jobs as a result of the controversy.

Steven Miller, the former acting commissioner, was forced out of that position. Joseph Grant, who oversaw tax-exempt groups and government entities, announced his retirement eight days after being promoted.

Lois Lerner, who managed the office that handled applications from tax-exempt groups, was placed on paid administrative leave May 23. She disclosed the IRS’s actions on May 10 and apologized, four days before an inspector general’s report was released.

Werfel became acting IRS commissioner on May 22. He is scheduled to make his first appearance before a congressional panel on June 3, testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

“It is critical to gain a clear understanding of how the IRS uses the taxpayer dollars it receives from Congress and to research how our bill can help prevent abuses like those revealed in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report from ever happening again,” Representative Ander Crenshaw, a Florida Republican and the subcommittee’s chairman, said in a statement.

The House Ways and Means Committee today announced its second hearing on the subject. Representatives from some of the groups that received extra scrutiny will testify on June 4.

“This hearing will provide a voice to those Americans who wound up under the IRS’s political microscope on the basis of their beliefs,” Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican and the committee’s chairman, said in a statement.

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