A handful of top executives at the Internal Revenue Service ran up “extremely high travel expenses” in 2011 and 2012, according to a new report from Treasury Department inspector general J. Russell George.
The report indicates that these executives work primarily in Washington, D.C., but live elsewhere, and fly to Washington routinely. In 2011 and 2012, twelve IRS executives spent over 200 days traveling each year; in some cases, the number of travel days they logged actually exceeded the number of business days in the calendar because they remained in “travel status” on weekends and holidays.
An IRS source tells National Review Online at least two of the executives commuting to D.C. by plane work at the highest echelons of the agency. They include Beth Tucker, one of two deputy commissioners, and Laurel Cummings, the director of compliance strategy and policy for the Affordable Care Act. Both live in Texas but work primarily in Washington, D.C. Tucker reports directly to the IRS commissioner and Cummings reports to Sarah Hall Ingram, the director of the IRS office responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Tucker last month came under fire at a House Oversight Committee hearing when she was grilled about her knowledge of the agency’s targeting of tea-party groups. She became aware of it in a meeting with TIGTA in May 2012 but did not take action. Her exchange with Ohio congressman Jim Jordan is below:
It is the American taxpayer, of course, who is footing the bill for their costly commutes, which is why federal law requires the agency to accomplish its mission in “the most economical and effective manner” and to “consider alternatives, including teleconferencing, prior to authorizing travel.” The IRS’s most frequent travelers cost taxpayers over $1.2 million in 2011 and nearly $1.1 million in 2012.