GOP rep blasts IRS lack of background checks

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) said the lack of background checks on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contractors was "inexcusable."

“The pattern of inexcusable behavior at the IRS is unacceptable and why we need to press for reform of this agency, especially in light of their new responsibilities overseeing Americans healthcare decisions,” Black said Thursday.

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Black’s comments came after the Treasury Department inspector general found that the IRS failed to conduct required background checks on contractors who had access to sensitive information.

Black said that error put confidential taxpayer data at risk.

“Americans deserve to have their personal information treated securely and with discretion, and the IRS should follow the policies that are there to protect tax payers from fraud and identity theft,” Black said. 

Under IRS policy, background checks are mandatory for contractors who work with that kind of data.

The IRS pointed out that the IG report didn't find that any data was inappropriately used, but that it is working to ensure contractors are background checked.

"The IRS is committed to ensuring that background investigations are conducted for contractor personnel," an IRS spokesperson said. "We have taken additional steps to ensure all necessary security provisions are in place to safeguard sensitive information."

Black serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the IRS.

— Bernie Becker contributed to this article, which was updated at 4 p.m. on Aug. 16.