IRS back on track?

Over the years the IRS has taken political shots from Republican and Democratic administrations who claim it has used its muscle to help or hinder political groups. Today’s guest column is from a long-time career worker who says things seem to be getting better, at least in her part of the agency:

New day, new hires

(Disclaimer: I am employed by the IRS but I do not speak for them in any official capacity. My thoughts here are strictly my own)

Hiring has at last begun again at the agency where I work. It’s been quite a few years with very, very limited hiring and quite a lot of staff attrition. I don’t have statistics at my fingertips, but with retirements, and people leaving for greener pastures, and more retirements, a lot of offices were suffering from severe shortages. It may not have been the long-predicted brain drain, but definitely down to light levels. Like the old saying goes, “We’ve been asked to do more and more with less and less for so long, we’re just about able to do everything with nothing.”

So even limited hiring is good news. It would take several rounds of such hiring to get close to where we were a few years ago, but you have to start somewhere.

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People are pretty happy, albeit pretty busy, with the notoriously complex federal hiring process. But even beyond the byzantine hiring procedures, and even though everyone is happy and excited to get new employees, there is some anxiety. So many experienced people have been lost it’s become almost difficult to find enough instructors for the classroom portions of training, and then coaches for “on the job” phases of training. So many of the remaining experienced people are being pulled into other assignments, it’s causing a real dearth of employees to do the actual work of the agency, at least during the training period.

Of course, this is what’s known as a “good” problem to have. It may be a bit of an inconvenience at first, but there is no doubt that getting new employees is a positive and will payoff down the road. It’s true that the retirement tsunami has never really hit as hard as many expected, but it’s undeniable that there has been a steady drip-drip-drip of experienced employees leaving, taking with them all that accumulated knowledge, not all of which is recorded in manuals, job-aids or desk guides.

So, while it may be a hard press for a little while, everyone is happy that we have this opportunity for skills transfer, before we lose all of the longtime employees. It’s kind of exciting to be welcoming fresh new faces. And it opens up opportunities for many employees who have been waiting for a long time for promotion opportunities.

Speaking of promotion, the agency has also started a new round of planning for leadership succession. All federal agencies do some type of this process, encouraging employees to consider careers in management positions, and helping them develop the skills or “competencies” they need to be good managers. Most everyone has had experience with people who are fantastic at their job, whatever technical position that might be, and so they were promoted into management, where their technical knowledge didn’t always translate into good management skills.

The leadership succession process tries to ensure that people going into management have the chance to learn and practice not just their technical skills, but skills that are useful to leading teams.

While no one particularly likes paying taxes, most people if they are honest do like many of the things taxes provide for: Defense of the country, our gorgeous national parks, our preeminent scientific research and development of new technology, food and drug safety inspections, and much more. This is why we organize ourselves into civilized societies – to collectively provide for things for ourselves that would be prohibitively expensive for each of us to have to do on our own. It makes our lives more comfortable, safer and more peaceful.

We may disagree about how, and we should be able to have these conversations, civilly and respectfully. Isn’t that what our country is all about? Our wonderful blessings, and may we not take them for granted or ever allow them to be taken from us – require us to be responsible about ensuring they are not lost.

As Mike noted in a recent column, the audit rate is down again; it has been declining for many years. That may sound like good news, but audits help keep the system fair. If someone isn’t paying their fair share, that means the rest of us honest suckers pay more, and the services our taxes are supposed to be paying for suffer, too. A fair system makes a better future for all of us.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Contrary to popular myth, Washington, D.C.’s traffic circles were not designed to confuse or defend against invading armies. Architect Pierre L’Enfant originally envisioned them as squares, and proposed selling them to the states for them to set up “embassies” and businesses around their squares. But at the time the states were too busy developing themselves to take ownership of the properties.

Source: WeLoveDC

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