Hatch report finds 'troubling' IRS spending on long-term travel

Hatch report finds 'troubling' IRS spending on long-term travel
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More than two dozen IRS employees traveled for more than half of fiscal 2015, incurring total costs of more than $1.4 million, according to a report from the staff of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah).

There were 27 IRS employees who traveled for 125 business days or more. The trips had an average length of 207 days and an average cost of $52,800, the report found.

"The number of employees who travel more than half of the year and the cost at which they do so is simply unacceptable," the Finance Committee staff said in the report. The staff said many of the findings of their review were "troubling."

The committee staff took a closer look at 15 of the cases. They found that the lodging these employees chose "often appeared to be excessive and inappropriate" and six of the employees had laundry and dry cleaning expenses of more than $500. 

"Luxury apartments, black car service, and unnecessary Amtrak Acela rides cannot continue," the staff said in the report.

In a letter sent to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Hatch said that the report's findings were "frustrating" for two reasons.

The first was that the IRS was not fully using tools provided by federal travel regulations to significantly reduce the employees' per diem travel rates, and the IRS was making exceptions to its internal guidance on executive travel.

The second was that "the lack of effort by IRS employees to exercise prudence and economy when utilizing taxpayer funds is concerning" and appears to be in violation of federal travel regulations, Hatch said.

Hatch asked the IRS to respond to the report and describe how the agency plans to address the paper's concerns and recommendations.