On behalf of the Professional Managers Association – the non-profit professional association that since 1981 has represented professional managers, management officials, and non-bargaining unit employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – I write to support the passage of the Preventing a Patronage System Act (HR 302).
The IRS is no stranger to accusations of political interference. Generally, these accusations come from both sides of the political aisle, based on complete misconceptions about how the IRS operates. Still, the last thing the IRS needs is more political leaders causing partisan scandals. What it does need is real accountability and a modernized personnel system.
The Preventing a Patronage System Act prevents the injection of additional partisanship into federal agencies, including the IRS, and allows Congress to take the lead on real civil service modernization. This bill prevents any President from instilling a cadre of loyalists in the federal workforce. In doing so, it ensures the federal workforce remains loyal to only two things: the Constitution and the law.
This bill promotes both efficiency and reliability. IRS career leaders have significant knowledge about complex tax laws and vast congressional mandates. Their knowledge expedites the onboarding process for political appointees, provides expert insight for other employees, and ensures timely, accurate information is relayed to stakeholders.
Career federal leaders ensure the consistent and reliable application of the law–the central component of the rule of law. Their institutional expertise balances the role of the Commissioner and the Chief Counsel—the only senate-confirmed political appointees directing administration priorities. The Commissioner can pursue the policies of the administration and the Chief Counsel can advise on all matters pertaining to the interpretation, administration, and enforcement of the law, but the civil service keeps those policies within the bounds of the law. This careful balance is rooted in our constitution and necessary for preventing drastic changes in the law from administration to administration. Taxpayers, from individuals to big businesses, rely on this stable application of the law.
That is not to say the system is perfect. Many managers at the IRS are frustrated by an antiquated personnel system. PMA stands alongside a coalition of management organizations urging civil service reforms to enhance accountability and address poor performance. But Congress should not allow the Executive Branch to assert unitary control over the federal workforce, politicizing the system and undermining the role of Congress.
The Preventing a Patronage Act guards Congress’s role as the authority on the organization of the federal workforce. It is necessary for maintaining the merit system and defending the rule of law. We urge the House to pass this bill immediately.