Washington, D.C.-President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) said today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight Board "can play a particularly important role in providing credible, independent advice and assistance" to the agency which is in the midst of its most far-reaching modernization in nearly 50 years.
Kelley made her comment following Senate confirmation of the seven public members of the nine-member Board.
She called the Board "another important voice" working to assist the agency in its modernization, and said NTEU "looks forward to working with the Board." NTEU represents more than 98,000 IRS employees; the union and its members have been key players from the start of the IRS modernization.
The IRS Oversight Board makes history as the first such federal government body to include an employee representative on a policy making board with such broad ranging authority. During the formulation of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, NTEU successfully sought the inclusion of an employee representative as Acritical@ to ensuring that the voices of NTEU employees be heard at the "at the highest levels of IRS oversight," Kelley said.
She emphasized that while the work of IRS employees over the past two years, including the unprecedented involvement of NTEU members on redesign and implementation teams, "has positioned the IRS to turn the promise of a modernized and effective agency into a reality," the continued success of the restructuring efforts will hinge on adequate and stable funding.
Kelley warned that the IRS funding bill now moving through Congress "falls short of what is needed," and said she hopes there is time in the pre-election congressional session for the Oversight Board "to offer its views on the need for adequate and stable IRS funding."
The Board's role includes recommendations on funding for the agency's short-term needs for personnel, training and career development, taxpayer education and customer service, and for longer-term initiatives like technology improvements, the NTEU president said.
Successful modernization involves "not just the processes by which the agency conducts its business, but its technological capabilities as well," she said. "The successful modernization of all of these elements clearly hinges on adequate funding."
In addition to its seven public members, the Board includes both the Treasury Secretary and the IRS Commissioner. The Restructuring and Reform Act embodies many of the recommendations of the bipartisan National Commission on Restructuring the IRS, which reviewed the agency's processes and structure in great detail for a year beginning in mid-1996.
Three of its public members were nominated by President Clinton for five-year terms: Robert M. Tobias, former NTEU president, who was chosen to fill the employee representative seat; Larry Levitan, a former partner at Arthur Andersen & Co., and Nancy Killefer, a former Treasury official. Two were nominated for four-year termsCGeorge Farr, former vice chairman of American Express Co., and Steve Nickles, a law professor at Wake Forest University; while two others were nominated for three-year terms. They are Charles Kolbe, an Iowa cattle rancher, and Karen Hastie Williams, a partner at the law firm of Crowell & Moring.
NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing more than 155,000 employees in 25 agencies and departments.