IRS investigations division details coping with smaller workforce

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  • IRS’ Criminal Investigations division is turning to artificial intelligence to assist a shrinking workforce. In its annual report for 2018, the IRS’ Criminal Investigation division explained how it is maintaining enforcement despite not having as many agents as it used to. The number of criminal investigation special agents dipped below 2,100 by the end of fiscal 2018, the lowest level since the 1970s. The division still opened more than 2,800 cases in 2018, and had a conviction rate of more than 91 percent. (IRS)
  • A former IRS call center employee received a 24-month sentence for identity theft. The Justice Department said Stephanie Parker used taxpayer information she obtained over the phone to file at least five fraudulent tax returns online while working as a contract center representative in Atlanta.  DOJ said Parker sent the money to accounts owned by her friends. The former employee must also pay nearly $6,000 in restitution to the IRS. (Department of Justice)
  • The Defense Department finished its first ever audit and failed to earn a clean opinion. The DoD Inspector General found one of the biggest problems included a lack of systems to prove the existence or evaluate the value of property and equipment. Auditors said DoD also can’t provide documentation to support financial transactions. The IG will release its full audit report in December. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said it is doing the best it can to fix IT problems that have delayed payments to GI Bill recipients. But there’s no resolution in sight quite yet. As of this week, VA said it’s behind on paying claims to about 56,500 students. That’s down from 82,000 last week but nearly 1,000 of those beneficiaries have been owed money for 60 days or more. The problems were sparked by legislation that changed the way VA calculates housing stipends for students. But department officials said there’s no evidence the glitches have caused widespread evictions. (Federal News Network)
  • Only one senior military official and one civilian official can attend a nongovernmental event at the same time. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan confirmed the rule was put in place in February and leaders must coordinate their appearances through a central DoD personnel office. Officials must get a waiver to send more than two people to an event. Shanahan says the rule is not hard and fast and depends on circumstances.
  • Ken Thomas replaced Richard Thissen as president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association. Thomas started his career at the Rehabilitation Services Administration. He spent 35 years in government and built program management tools for the Social Security Administration and Education Department. He will serve a two-year term. (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association)
  • Agencies should have an easier time verifying if their senior executives are meeting performance standards and mission goals with the Office of Personnel Management. A series of changes to the senior executive service performance appraisal certification process means agencies no longer need to formally renew their appraisal systems every two years. The process was long and complicated. OPM said the decision means it has more time to ensure agencies are actually using their executives to meet mission. (Federal News Network)
  • Preparations are underway for the government’s premier employee awards program. One hundred thirty-one federal career executives and professionals have received Presidential Rank Awards for 2018. Under federal law, only 1 percent of senior executive service members can receive awards in a given year. Awardees are nominated by their agency heads and NASA has 13 awardees this year, the most of any agency. The Senior Executives Association organizes an annual day-long workshop for the winners, scheduled for Dec. 13. (Presidential Rank Awards)
  • The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is going mythbusting for a fourth time. Deputy Administrator Lesley Field said another memo dispelling common acquisition fallacies is in the works. She said the latest iteration will remind agencies and industry of the previous three as well as promote innovation through both federal acquisition regulation and non-FAR approaches to acquisition.
  • The General Services Administration wants to make it easier for agencies to buy advanced cyber services. GSA planned to consolidate the number of special item numbers under its highly adaptive cybersecurity services or HACS portion of Schedule 70. GSA made the changes after hearing from industry and agency customers that the current set up of four distinct SINs made it difficult to buy complete and integrated cybersecurity tools. The agency also is adding a new subcategory for high value asset assessments. The HACS SINs have been popular, with agencies spending almost $8 million on these services, which is a 257 percent increase over last year at this time. (General Services Administration)