The IRS division that targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status released its 2012 annual report in February, an assessment that sheds light on the stated mission and goals of the "Exempt Organizations" (EO) unit.

"EO is committed to looking for ways to increase transparency about the status and findings of our projects by providing a clearer picture of our fiscal year goals and reporting on interim findings where possible," wrote Lois Lerner, the director of the division and the woman at the center of the political firestorm, in an introductory letter to the 2012 report.

The report also sheds light on a division of the Internal Revenue Service most Americans may be unfamiliar with. The report notes a decline in staffing -- from 900 in the 2010 fiscal year, to 876 in fiscal year 2012.

The number of compliance checks performed by the division in 2012 rose to 3,277 from 3,194 in 2011, according to the report. In 2010, when the number of Tea Party groups mushroomed, the number of compliance checks hit 3,893.

“We…use compliance check questionnaires to study specific parts of the tax-exempt community…” the report states. “We request the completion of the questionnaires by organizations matching the profile we want to learn about.”

The report also includes an organizational chart that depicts one set of employees responsible for examinations and another set tasked with ruling on those examinations.