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And you thought your job was bad

The federal government is large and is made up of such varied entities as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Parks Service, the Department of Defense, the National Weather Service, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. And of course, the Internal Revenue Service, whose efforts help fund all of those other departments.

Among the more obscure parts of the government is the catchy-titled Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The job of TIGTA is to audit the IRS and its operation to ensure that that agency is performing its job as it should. TIGTA issues numerous reports throughout the year, examining the vast bureaucracy that is the IRS.

The scope of that job is impressive: In 2013, the IRS collected $2.8 trillion in gross tax receipts. They handled 240 million tax returns and 120 million refunds totaling $364 billion. And they dealt with 2.1 billion information returns. That’s 66 information returns every second of the entire year.

So you may not be surprised to find that TIGTA has found that the IRS has not always fixed issues that TIGTA suggested should be fixed or improved in prior audits. This year in the excitingly titled “Compendium of Unimplemented Corrective Actions,” TIGTA collects all of those failings.

Some are very important. Taxpayer information security is perhaps the greatest. The IRS maintains 178 separate computer systems. In a year of high-profile hackings of major U.S. corporations, an entity like the IRS, with the vast amounts of sensitive taxpayer information and the staggering sums of money it controls, the importance of IT system security is paramount.

TIGTA found that the IRS had incorrectly closed eight of 19 corrective actions, which could compromise this information. They also faulted the IRS for inadequate protection programs for the 25,000 workers who interact with the public. They noted that investigating threats has become the second largest task of their special agents’ workload. 

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