There’s a narrative going around Washington that the IRS scandal could have been prevented through proper safeguards. This is nonsense. There’s already a gazillion oversight groups:
The agency at the center of Washington’s latest political storm hardly lacked for institutional safeguards. The 1998 restructuring — the first such changes in nearly half a century — created a nine-member IRS Oversight Board designed “to oversee the IRS in its administration, management, conduct, direction, and supervision” of the tax laws.
By 2010, when the IRS began struggling to process applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status, the support apparatus had expanded to include an IRS Advisory Council, the office of the National Taxpayer Advocate, the inspector general and several subject-specific advisory committees, including one for tax-exempt entities. Elsewhere, six congressional committees monitor the IRS, while the Government Accountability Office issues reports on its activities and the Treasury Department oversees it. (Source)
If we were to go through the mandates and powers of each of the existing oversight committees, I’m sure they had, as a group, more than enough authority to stop these abuses. But they didn’t.
And I’m sure that if we dug some more, we’d find a plethora of ethical guidelines and codes of conduct designed to inspire ethical actions on the part of IRS staff. But they failed.
Why? Because the real problem here is immorality. It manifests itself in two forms: either people who purposely choose to do wrong because of self-interest, or people who are just too indifferent or lazy to properly supervise the operations under their responsibility. No amount of regulation can fix an immorality problem. You can lessen it to a certain extent, but it can never be fixed.
What America really needs is a moral overhaul, by letting themselves be transformed by God’s saving grace. But that’s not the quick fix that politicians are looking for.