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Audit Finds Some Former IRS Employees Retained Access to Government Computers, Facilities

When we change jobs, we normally lose access to the buildings and electronics we may have used for our former employer. However, a new audit report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says in some instances, that didn’t happen when workers left the Internal Revenue Service – even when they left due to a pending criminal misconduct case.

The IRS has controls in place designed to verify physical access to government facilities is secured when employees leave IRS employment. These controls include a computer process to document returned items, and third-party verification and deactivation of the returned items, which can be physical keys, electronic swipe cards or other sorts of official identification.

TIGTA obtained a random sample of the employee separations that occurred during 2014. Their audit found that in 66 percent of the 4,100 employee separations, the IRS couldn’t verify that all the security items were in fact recovered from the outgoing employees. In addition, TIGTA also looked at a “judgmental sample” of 10 employees who separated during a pending disciplinary case. The IRS was unable to verify the recovery of security items from six of those former employees. The agency also couldn’t provide evidence that their separations were referred to TIGTA’s Office of Investigations as required.

The audit discovered that when the IRS failed to collect security items, some were later used to enter IRS buildings.

TIGTA also found IRS managers contributed to the security mistakes, by failing to document all the security items that should be recovered from the separating employee – or by listing some items for recovery that weren’t assigned to the employee at all. The report cites 87 managers from their random sample of former employees had indicated that the separated employees were issued keys. However, only one of those managers listed keys as a recoverable item.

In addition, 65 managers claimed that non-enforcement pocket commissions (shirt-pocket badges) were recovered from the separating employees – but records showed those badges were never issued to those workers.

The Inspector General’s Office recommended the IRS update its procedures for separating employees, while taking an inventory of non-enforcement pocket commission assignments to employees. The report also recommended the development of an inventory process for manual keys and key cards that mandates the changing of combination locks, as well as confirmation that access to buildings and computers is deactivated when the employee leaves IRS service.

It was noted that IRS management agreed with all the report’s recommendations.

Bob Williams

Forget genes; I’ve got words in my DNA. Communication has been part of who I am nearly all my life. From a long career in radio news to another one in newspapers – and a University of Georgia journalism degree sandwiched between the two – language has been my life. I’ve also been fortunate to have learned the tax business from the ground up here at Drake, starting with 1040.com online forms some years ago before moving on to work on the Web. In all things tax-ish, we aim to give you tools you can use.

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