An Internal Revenue Service review of the agency's approach of scrutinizing conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status questioned the now-controversial policy a year ago, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee spokesman Ali Ahmad.

IRS officials briefed House and Senate committee staffers on the matter on May 13, the day before the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration released his report describing the decision to single out groups with phrases such as "tea party" and "patriot" in their name as "inappropriate."

In late March 2012, IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller--who resigned his post as acting commissioner last week at President Obama's request--directed senior technical advisor Nancy J. Marks to investigate allegations of political targeting of groups seeking tax exempt status, agency officials told congressional aides. Holly Paz, acting director of ruling and agreements, worked with Marks on the probe, and both traveled to Cincinnati to conduct interviews.

On May 3, 2012. Marks gave what IRS officials described as a “presentation” to Miller describing her findings. Marks said the investigation had found significant problems in the review process and a substantial bias against conservative group, Ahmad said. No written findings were produced as a result, the aide said, and it does not appear the internal review led to any disciplinary actions against IRS employees.

It would take more than a year, and an orchestrated question at an American Bar Association meeting, to bring the matter to light.