By Jason Bramwell
The current controller of the US Office of Management and Budget has been appointed by President Obama as the new acting commissioner of the IRS, effective May 22.
Daniel Werfel, forty-two, will take over the position vacated by Steven Miller, who resigned on May 15. Werfel will lead the effort to fix the reputation of the IRS, which has been under fire since May 10 when the agency admitted to improperly scrutinizing the federal tax-exempt status of conservative groups.
In a written statement, Obama said Werfel has proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity, and skill.
"The American people deserve to have the utmost confidence and trust in their government, and 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", the president said.
Werfel has agreed to serve in this position through the end of the fiscal year, according to the statement.
The IRS apologized on May 10 for what it calls "inappropriate" targeting of groups that had conservative titles, such as "tea party" or "patriot", in their names to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
According to areport released on May 14 by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), inappropriate criteria that was developed and implemented by the IRS Determinations Unit in Cincinnati remained in place for more than eighteen months in part due to insufficient oversight provided by management. This resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications and allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.
The Determinations Unit is responsible for reviewing applications as they are received to determine whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status.
During a joint press conference at the White House on May 16 with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Obama stressed that he didn't know anything about the TIGTA report before it was leaked through the press.
"Typically, the IG reports are not supposed to be widely distributed or shared. They tend to be a process that everybody is trying to protect the integrity of", the president said. "But what I'm absolutely certain of is that the actions that were described in that IG report are unacceptable."
Obama said his main concern is fixing the IRS, and that process began yesterday by asking and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner.
"We will be putting in new leadership that will be able to make sure that – following up on the IG audit – we gather up all the facts and we hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions", he said.