The discrepancy surfaced as District officials continued to urge the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer to conduct more thorough background checks of high-level job candidates. More than a decade ago, the agency discovered that its general counsel was not a lawyer.
George, hired for the D.C. tax appraiser job in November 2011, also wrote on his job application and his résuméthat he was a certified, level four appraiser in Georgia — the highest level designated by the Georgia Department of Revenue, which runs a continuing-education program for appraisers that includes certification. But public records and an interview with a state official show that George did not receive a high enough score on an exam to be certified in the top level.
“Mr. George never achieved level four,” said Jud Seymour, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Revenue. “He did not achieve the prerequisite score.”
George passed the level four exam on his sixth try but did not receive the score on the level three exam necessary for level four certification, Seymour said. In the District, tax office appraisers are exempt from local licensing requirements, a city official said.
George’s tenure as chief appraiser has come under scrutiny in recent months after The Washington Post reported that his office had lowered the proposed taxable value of 500 commercial properties by $2.6 billion, settling the tax disputes before the city’s appeals process could play out.
The reductions, which D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi has said were necessary to avoid litigation, meant that the city collected about $48 million less in potential revenue for 2012 than the original assessments would have generated. The number of reductions created dissension within the tax office. One employee filed an anonymous complaint on an employee hotline, and the FBI and internal auditors have been investigating, according to several people familiar with the probe who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. George has not returned calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Through a public records request, The Post in July sought a copy of George’s résuméand job application. Gandhi’s office declined to provide the documents, stating that they contained personal information exempt from disclosure.
The Post appealed to the mayor’s office, which last week ordered the agency to release the records, subject to redaction of personal information, saying that the public interest in such documents outweighed any privacy interest.