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Watchdog: Former IRS Employees Might Still Have Access to Computers, Facilities

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington.

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington. // J. David Ake/AP File Photo

The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t regularly recover security items, including keys and government identification, from employees who leave the agency, a new watchdog report finds.

This oversight could give those former employees “unauthorized entry” to workplaces, IRS computers, taxpayer information, and could allow them to misrepresent themselves to taxpayers, an audit from IRS’ Office of the Inspector General warned.

A random sampling in 2014 said IRS couldn’t verify it had recovered all security items from more than 66 percent of roughly 4,100 “separated” employees -- which includes “retirement, resignation, death, etc.,” the OIG report said.

In a different sample of 10 employees, the IRS couldn’t verify security items for six, and couldn’t show those cases were referred to the Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Managers also didn’t document all security items accurately. For instance, out of 87 managers, all of whom issued keys to their employees, only one had listed manual keys as “recoverable,” the report said.

While IRS has a computer process that documents when items are recovered -- this involves verification by a third party and the deactivation of that item -- but it wasn’t enough to prevent access after employees had left, the report concluded.

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