Cross Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa (R) at your own peril. Especially on the topic of whistleblowers.
Senator Grassley, who has served on the U.S. Senate for more than three decades, has been an outspoken and courageous proponent of the benefit of whistleblowers. As a conservative, fiscally responsible public servant he understands the tremendous value—return on investment—of whistleblowers. They only get paid if they collect money, and even without much of an infrastructure to support them (read: none), they have helped the government collect billions and as a deterrent to fraudulent conduct, save countless more.
The most recent institution to draw Senator Grassley’s ire? The IRS. Yes, that IRS. Specifically its Whistleblower Office, which continues to evaluate claims at a glacial pace. (Is there a word meaning “slower than glacial”? It seems that my beloved Chicago Cubs win the World Series at about the same pace—once every 100 years, give or take a decade or two.) What’s got the Senator so worked up? Its been reported that nineteen IRS employees, including the Director of the IRS Whistleblower Office and two members of his staff, are currently playing 18 at Doral basking in the Florida sun attending the “Offshore Alert Conference” in Miami Beach.
As Senator Grassley points out in his aggressive, take-no-prisoners letter regarding the Whistleblower Office, the Conference is of dubious relation to the goals and needs of the Whistleblower Office. You see, the conference’s focus is on methods to acquire whistleblowers. The IRS has plenty—thousands, more than likely. Their problem is they are sitting on them. Yep, just dragging those big bureaucratic feet. It’s one excuse after another.
Hopefully Senator Grassley’s letter has lit a fire under Director Stephen A. Whitlock’s desk chair (or golf cart). It demands numerous reports and responses dealing with the Whistleblower Office’s schedule, budgeting, and progression of claims. Here are a few choice quotes from the Senator’s letter:
- “Since last writing to Commissioner Shulman, I have received even more correspondence from whistleblowers whose claims are not progressing at the IRS… The lack of progress is demoralizing whistleblowers so that I am now concerned that whistleblowers will stop coming forward.”
- “In my September, 2011, letter to Commissioner Shulman, I requested that the IRS implement the GAO’s recommendations as well as a few others before the IRS submitted its next whistleblower report to Congress. The IRS response to the GAO indicated that IRS did not have the resources to implement those recommendations. As I stated in my letter, the money recovered from whistleblowers should more than cover the costs of implementing those recommendations.”
- “To date, the Deputy Commissioner has responded to my letters to each of you. Given my concerns that the IRS Whistleblower program does not have your support, I ask that any response to this letter be under your signature. I appreciate your prompt response. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my staff.”
So whistleblowers fear not. Grassley will stay on the IRS in a loud, public way. And he will not go away. Heck, if Theo Epstein doesn’t turn the Cubs around, I may be calling for Senator G to take over as General Manager when his Senate days are over.
Assisted by David T. Martin