Despite spending more than $9 million on executive travel costs in two years, the Internal Revenue Service claimed its executives' travel costs are nothing out of the ordinary.
IRS executives spent $4.7 million on travel in the 2012 fiscal year and $4.8 million in the 2011 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Tuesday.
"The IRS notes the finding by TIGTA that overall executive travel does not appear to be excessive," the IRS said in an emailed statement to Whispers. "Travel by leadership is critical because the IRS is a national operation, with about 90,000 employees located in 620 locations from coast to coast. Face-to-face interaction with employees and managers is critical to ensure that sound practices and proper procedures are being followed both for taxpayer service efforts and tax compliance."
The report revealed a select few of IRS executives, about 15 people, were responsible for the high travel expenses.
It stated that 4 percent of IRS executives accounted for about 26 percent – $1.1 million – in 2011 and 23 percent – $1.2 million – in 2012 of the total executive travel expenses. The top 15 spenders traveled an average of 184 days and spent an average of $73,054 each in 2012, according to TIGTA.
Moreover, TIGTA found that several executives reside outside of Washington, D.C. but frequently travel to the area to conduct daily operations. Twelve executives (seven in 2011 and five in 2012) were in travel status for over 200 days out of the year.
"The cost and frequency of travel for these executives indicate that they may not live in the best location to economically accomplish their roles and responsibilities," TIGTA said in a press release.
TIGTA recommended the IRS Chief Financial Officer require an analysis that compares the costs and benefits of a long-term travel situation to that of a temporary or permanent change of station.
Though it claimed spending was not excessive, the IRS agreed and instituted a change in its travel policy in April 2013 that generally restricts executives from being in travel status more than 75 nights in any fiscal year.
"It is encouraging that in response to TIGTA's findings, the IRS is taking action to better control executive travel," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.