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Report: IRS needs to tighten security assessments to protect workers

The Internal Revenue Service failed to perform required security assessments at more than a dozen of its facilities, placing employees at risk, according to a recent audit.

(Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In a report released Thursday, the office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said threats of violence against IRS workers and facilities have increased “during a time of continued financial hardship,” adding that the agency is a “target for those who are angry at the tax system or the government.”

The analysis did not specify a time frame for the uptick, but it noted that the agency faced more than 1,400 threat incidents between October 2010 and September 2011.

A separate TIGTA report this month on IRS management challenges said the agency processed more than 8,600 threat-related complaints between 2009 and 2012.

The latest TIGTA report said the IRS did not evaluate 14 of its more than 600 facilities, failing to comply with its own requirements. It also said the agency did not follow through with some of its own recommendations for security measures at facilities it assessed, for instance by failing to implement blast-mitigation efforts at 191 sites.

The audit also found that the IRS had not ensured the Federal Protective Service performed risk assessments at 49 facilities located in or next to IRS facilities, including child-care centers, parking garages, credit unions and storage units. One IRS building allowed direct access from a child-care center without the required screening, according to the analysis.

“The IRS may have security vulnerabilities that are not identified and addressed in a timely manner, thereby placing IRS employees and taxpayers at risk,” the report said.

TIGTA said the IRS did not explain why it failed to perform risk assessments at 14 facilities, but auditors concluded that flawed tracking methods may have contributed to the problem.

The IRS said it could not carry out its own recommendations for security countermeasures in some instances because of resource constraints, according to the report.

The agency also told TIGTA that a lack of communication and security-assessment agreements with the Federal Protective Service may have caused its failure to ensure checks at adjoining facilities such as childcare centers.

The inspector general offered seven recommendations for correcting the deficiencies, all of which the IRS agreed with, according to the report.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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