Tax-Exempt Head Given 'Presidential Rank Award' in Midst of IRS Targeting
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R–KY) questioned acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel at the Committee’s hearing on Monday regarding the $92 million in bonuses IRS employees received over the last three years.
“Sarah Hall Ingram, Former Commissioner of the Tax exempt Entities Division which was responsible for overseeing the 501c4 applications, received a bonus of $103,000 plus, which increased within the period of the increased scrutiny of these conservative groups and in addition to that she was promoted to head of the IRS involvement of Obamacare,” Rogers said.
Werfel responded, “My understanding is that there is a small sub class of bonuses called presidential rank awards that are approved by the president, but they’re relatively small in number.” He added, “There’s maybe a couple hundred throughout the entire government. The larger amount of bonuses in terms of quantity are typically approved by the agency head.”
Hall Ingram earned a Presidential Rank Award (PRA) for FY 2010 in the Meritorious rank category on April 28, 2011. Nominations for the PRA’s are typically due in the spring and a decision is made by the president by September.
The Presidential Rank Awards Program, according to OPM, are given to a “select group of career senior executives who have provided exceptional service to the American people over an extended period of time.”
OPM describes the payment of each award: “Distinguished Rank Award recipients receive 35 percent of their rate of basic pay; Meritorious Rank Award recipients receive 20 percent of their rate of basic pay. The award is paid as a lump-sum payment.”
Rogers was quick to point out to Werfel that OPM guidelines, however, say that bonuses over $25,000 must be approved by the president. The Kentucky Republican asked the acting IRS commisioner if the president approved the bonuses of the indivudals involved in the agency scandal.
Werfel, seeemingly puzzled by Rogers’ line of questioning, remarked that he did not know if one of the named individuals received several bonuses adding up to or exceeding $25,000 or one bonus exceeding $25,000. Werfel promised Chairman Rogers he would look into it and get back to the Committee with an answer.
The Treasury Inspector General report’s findings showed that from April 2010 to December 2011, the IRS began targeting conservative organizations for extra scrutiny. A memo was sent around with a "BOLO" (Be On the Lookout) to flag applications with such terms like "Tea Party," "Patriots," and "9/12." By early 2012, IRS officials began demanding more information under impossible deadlines from these organizations applying for tax-exempt status.