Details have surfaced on the complaints lodged against Austin law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, one of a trio hired by the Internal Revenue Service as part of a plan to outsource some debt collections.

The IRS initiative was supposed to begin this summer, but has been halted indefinitely while the Government Accountability Offices examines prejudice complaints lodged by two competitors in March.

According to the complaints:

  • A former partner at the law firm was convicted in a 2002 bribery scheme involving payments to San Antonio city councilmen, who then voted to approve a collection contract with the law firm;
  • The firm settled a lawsuit in 2004, in which a competitor alleged that the law firm offered illegal gifts and bribes, and rigged bids to win collection contracts from several local governments; and,
  • A New Orleans contact awarded to the firm in 1998 was the center of a federal investigation.

Spokesmen for the IRS have said they cannot address the issues raised in the complaint while the agency's decision is being contested. The IRS has said it believes it performed its due diligence before awarding the contracts.Linebarger was one of three firms chosen from among 33 bidders in March for the potentially lucrative IRS contract, which will attempt to collect an estimated $1.4 billion in tax debts over the next decade. Participating firms will be allowed to keep up to 24 percent of the amounts they collect. Specializing in government collections, the Linebarger firm has approximately 1,500 employees and offices in 10 states.

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