Obama Appoints OMB Official as Acting IRS Commissioner

President Barack Obama appointed Danny Werfel, controller of the White House budget office, as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

 

Werfel on May 22 will replace Steven Miller, who was forced to resign on Wednesday following disclosure of the agency’s selective scrutiny of small-government groups seeking tax-exempt status. (See “IRS Commissioner Fired Over Tea Party Targeting.”)

“As we work to get to the bottom of what happened and restore confidence in the IRS, Danny has the experience and management ability necessary to lead the agency at this important time,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House today.

Werfel, 42, will serve until the fiscal year ends September 30, the White House said. The acting IRS commissioner position doesn’t require Senate confirmation.

Obama hasn’t nominated a permanent commissioner since the term of Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee, ended in November.

OMB controller, and another departure:Werfel was confirmed as controller of the Office of Management and Budget in October 2009. He is in charge all federal programs on financial reporting, curbing improper payments, selling surplus government property, and streamlining government purchasing and information technology programs.

The IRS announced on Thursday that a second official will leave the agency. Joseph Grant, who oversees tax-exempt organizations and government entities, will retire June 3, according to an IRS memo.

Grant had only been appointed to his position on May 8. At the time, Miller issued a statement saying Grant would “provide strong leadership and continuity.”

Grant was previously the deputy commissioner over tax- exempt groups and government entities. He is a former member of the Democratic staff of the House Ways and Means Committee, according to the memo.

At a news conference earlier on Thursday, Obama said he wasn’t aware of the IRS matter before the counsel’s office was informed April 22.

“The minute I found out about it, then my main focus is making sure that we get the thing fixed,” he said in the White House Rose Garden.

Obama also said the IRS inspector general would be seeking a further investigation.

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IRS Commissioner Fired Over Tea Party Targeting

 

President Obama announced during a press conference late Wednesday afternoon that he had asked for and received the resignation of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller, over the recently revealed news that the agency had been targeting for extra scrutiny the applications of Tea Party and similar groups for tax-exempt status.

“It’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence,” Obama said at the White House.

A report released on Wednesday night by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that starting as early as 2010, a unit of the IRS had been using a list of politically charged and “inappropriate” criteria to single applications out, including whether the applying group’s name included the words “Tea Party,” “Patriot” or “9/12.” (See “TIGTA: ‘Ineffective Management’ Led to Targeting.”) The watchdog group found no evidence of outside political influence in the singling out of those groups.

Miller, who had been acting commissioner since November 2012, apparently knew about the targeting of the groups as early as May 2012, and has maintained that it was the result of the actions of a small number of IRS employees in a unit in Cincinnati, and not politically motivated.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days,” Miller wrote in a letter to IRS employees. “And there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency.”

No successor was named, and Miller wrote that he would leave the agency in June after working on an “orderly transition” to a new commissioner.

A number of senators and congressman had suggested that Miller resign or be fired, and Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that he will pursue a criminal investigation of the scandal. (See “Holder Orders Criminal Probe of IRS Tea-Party Group Focus.”)

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