DELAYED SCREENING RISKED TAXPAYER DATA
July 30, 2022 - Douglas Myser
Delayed screening risked taxpayer data. In a report from TIGTA, the Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration, officials found that some IRS new workers in 2020 and in 2021 had access to sensitive information including taxpayer data while preemployment fingerprinting and in-person verification of their identification documents had been deferred because of the COVID_19 pandemic. The obvious result was a potential risk of exposing taxpayer data. The IRS has made progress in making sure the security protocols were followed up later and documented, TIGTA said in the report, which was released. No reported security breach was reported. Normal procedures for all prospective IRS employees include an FBI background investigation, which includes checking for criminal histories using individuals fingerprints. In addition, the IRS and other agencies generally must physically inspect new employees identification documents as part of completing U.S. citizenship and immigration services form 1-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, at a new employee's orientation or within three days of when they start work. Delayed screening risked taxpayer data.
In March 2020, as the pandemic prompted the IRS and most other federal agencies to close and shift employees duties where possible to remote work, the Office of Personnel Management allowed agencies to delay fingerprinting while temporary guidance was in effect. The IRS applied the exception to new employees it ranked as posing a low or moderate risk to the public trust. And the service continued to perform criminal background checks using the employees names. Once normal operations in the agency resumed, employees were required to present the identification documents in person within three business days. Employees required to be physically present at a work location were not covered by the exception. Those guidelines are still in effect until October 31, 2022.
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