How the IRS Scandal is Affecting the Future of Grants

May 21, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

irs-logo_jpegYou’ve probably heard in the news by now about a bit of a scandal we’re having here in D.C., in which the IRS has been targeting conservative and Tea Party organizations for special scrutiny. This town does love a controversy, and I don’t see this one dying off anytime soon.

So to replace IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller, who was forced to resign due to the controversy, President Obama tapped someone very familiar to the grants world — Office of Management and Budget Controller Danny Werfel. Werfel, whose appointment will be effective tomorrow, “will lead efforts to ensure the IRS implements new safeguards to restore public trust and administers the tax code with fairness and integrity,” according to a White House statement. Werfel is slated to serve in this capacity through the end of the fiscal year.

Werfel should be an excellent choice to oversee IRS during this period of adversity. I’ve heard him speak on numerous occasions over the years in covering grants management and have found him well-versed, financially astute and politically neutral. He has served as the controller since 2009 and had overseen many grants management streamlining efforts previously with OMB.

However, this raised a question. If you refer to the February notice in the Federal Register announcing the proposed grants reform guidance, you’ll see that it was signed at the end by Werfel himself. Ergo, many of the comments that have been submitted on the proposal have been addressed to him. With his departure during this critical point in developing the proposal and reviewing the comments to come up with a final guidance, who takes over now? Should stakeholders address their comments to a different person?

I asked this question to OMB’s Gil Tran and Victoria Collin. Collin responded, “In Danny Werfel’s absence, OMB will continue to welcome comments by the June 2 deadline, and letters received in response to the notice will be forwarded to the appropriate OMB official. There will not be an additional notice in the Federal Register to this effect, and stakeholders do not need to do anything different from what they otherwise would have done.”

So there you have it. Sometimes you can’t tell the players without a program around here. Consider yourself informed on the latest Washington movers and shakers.

Let us know how you feel about such personnel moves at this critical juncture. We’d love to hear it.

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