Werfel at several points during the hearing played down the notion that extra funding could help the agency fix its problems, as many defenders of the IRS have insisted in recent weeks.
“If you start with more money, it’s the wrong starting point,” Werfel said, adding that the more appropriate approach would be to identify the “framework for doing this right.”
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, applauded those comments, saying to Werfel, “I’m beginning to like you when you say you don’t want more money.”
Rep. JoséE. Serrano (D-N.Y.), who criticized GOP lawmakers for trying to implicate the Obama administration in the IRS wrongdoing, questioned Werfel’s suggestion.
“I guess, as a liberal, I would say, are you sure you don’t want any more money?” Serrano said. “Please understand that there are consequences to the fact that we are cutting your budget all the time.”
Werfel said the IRS may ask for more money later if the agency determines that its problems stem in part from a lack of resources.“What I’m suggesting is . . . let’s determine what is the right approach is for (c)(4) reviews and then align our budget to that right process,” he said. “It could be an increase, it could be level, or it could be less.”
Good-government groups have warned that the IRS may become too risk-averse in the wake of its recent troubles, causing corrective measures to backfire. Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, said:
“You can only tighten down so much before those efforts cost more than the bad things you’re trying to avoid,” said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service.
Monday’s hearing did not mark the end of congressional questioning for the IRS. A House Ways and Means subcommittee plans to hold a hearing Tuesday with testimony from groups subjected to delays and extra scrutiny during the targeting campaign.
Additionally, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday to discuss the report on IRS conferences.