House Concerned About Cost of Union Activity at IRS

One of Lois Lerner’s emails that was recently uncovered in the ongoing IRS investigation details how the union prevented disciplinary action from being taken on a non-performing but highly paid IRS employee. The revelation has the House Subcommittee on Oversight concerned about the value the IRS is getting for what it spends on union activity.

House Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA) recently sent a letter to IRS commissioner John Koskinen expressing concern about the amount of time and money the IRS spends annually on union activities performed by NTEU within the agency.

In his letter, Boustany noted that in FY 2013, the IRS had spent over $20 million dollars on 500,000 hours of union activity, all at at a time when the IRS claims it is understaffed, underfunded and unable to perform its duties.

Boustany’s letter also notes an email recently uncovered in the Lois Lerner investigation in which she expressed frustration about an employee being paid to do nothing who could not be fired. “We can’t do anything,” lamented Lerner, who noted that the employee was a GS-14 and bringing in an annual salary of between $106,263 and $138,136.

“No small business in America could keep its doors open if it paid employees for doing nothing. An employee that sought payment for work claimed, but never performed would be subject to severe disciplinary action, if not immediate termination. At the IRS, however, the NTEU protects underperforming employees,” wrote Boustany in his letter to Koskinen.

Boustany went on in the letter to request data to ensure the IRS is appropriately handling personnel problems, namely data that show how many employees have been disciplined for falsely claiming to do work and including details about each instance, such as the employee’s name and job title.

A copy of the letter is included below.

Boustany to IRS – Union Activity

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.