RNC platform calls for tougher stance on IRS, federal agency spending

The Republican National Convention supports impeaching the head of the IRS, and demands more stringent oversight of federal agency spending in its official party platform.

The 2016 Republican party platform, finalized by RNC delegates in Cleveland on Monday, takes a hardline stance against the IRS, federal unions, and agency budgets — proposals that have previously been advanced by Republican members of Congress.

Since June, the House Judiciary Committee has been considering whether to begin impeachment proceedings against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen as part of the fallout from the agency’s 2013 targeting scandal.

“Many good civil servants work at the IRS, but the agency itself is toxic. Its leadership employs known tax delinquents, rehires workers previously fired for misconduct, spends user fees without congressional oversight, and awards bonuses for customer service that would put any private company out of business,” the platform states. “Its commissioner has lied to Congress, hidden evidence, and stonewalled investigations. He should be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate.”

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in April 2014 reported that 1,100 IRS employees failed to pay federal taxes, yet were awarded more than $1 million in bonuses.

More surprisingly, the RNC platform supports getting the Defense Department to complete its first-ever financial audit, a massive undertaking that has been more than seven years in the works at the Pentagon.

Of all the government-centric proposals, the DoD audit will likely meet the least resistance from federal executives. DoD’s current financial management leaders have already begun drawing up plans to brief the next president on the audit’s progress, in order to not lose momentum on the project.

Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have received briefings about the Pentagon’s audit, however. Under law, DoD must wait until August to provide details of the plan to both candidates.

“Every taxpayer must be prepared to pass an audit, and we urge Congress to demand the same level of accountability from the Pentagon and the Department of Defense,” the platform said.

Chat with Jonathan Alboum, USDA CIO, July 26 at 2 p.m. Sign up here.

Federal employees, unions and “official time”

The party platform calls for federal employees to have the ability to opt-out of joining government unions, such as the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union and the National Federation of Federal Employees.

“We recognize the dedication of most employees of the federal government and thank them for their service, with special praise for the whistleblowers who risk their careers to expose waste, fraud, and misuse of power.  None of them should ever be compelled to join a union or pay dues to it,” the RNC said.

NTEU National President Tony Reardon said in a statement that the Republican platform is a good example of federal employee and federal union bashing.

“Due process for federal employees is a Constitutionally-protected right and the right to have a collective voice at work through union representation is also critical to all workers, but this platform criticizes both,” Reardon said. “Due process protections are in place for very good reasons: To protect whistleblowers and to keep the federal workplace free from political influence and whims. The proposals to slash federal compensation would make it difficult for the government to recruit and retain qualified employees.”

Reardon added the Republican party’s platform also is an insult to the employees of the IRS.

The RNC also pushed back on employees’ use of “official time,” which is paid time off for federal workers to represent their union. Official time is a collective bargaining right guaranteed by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

Earlier this year, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Subcommittee on Governmental Operations Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) have investigated employees’ use of official time.

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) introduced a bill in January that would require the Office of Personnel Management to submit yearly governmentwide reports on the practice of official time.

The RNC has also sets its sights on “bloated public relations budgets” at federal agencies. The Government Accountability Office announced in February that it will investigate agency spending on advertising following an inquiry by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

report by the Congressional Research Service found that federal agencies between fiscal 2009 and 2013 spent nearly $4.4 billion on contracts for “advertising services.”

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