The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division needs to make sure its special agents are taking and passing required firearms training, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The CI investigates potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes. Like law enforcement officers of other federal agencies, CI agents must meet firearms training and qualification standards each fiscal year. Special agents must pass tests, including firing a handgun, entering a building with a firearm, and firing a weapon while wearing a bulletproof vest.

TIGTA reviewed whether CI has effective internal controls to ensure that special agents are adhering to procedures regarding required training and qualifications in the use of firearms, including evaluating the potential impact on CI’s program if special agents fail to qualify.

TIGTA found that CI’s firearms training and qualification requirements generally met or exceeded those of other federal law enforcement agencies. However, TIGTA found that some CID special agents did not meet all firearms training and qualification requirements. CI field office management did not always take consistent and appropriate actions when a special agent failed to meet the requirements because the guidance was vague. In addition, CI has no national-level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.

TIGTA also found that firearm discharge incidents were not always properly reported and that remedial training was not always required after accidental discharges were caused by negligence on the part of the special agent. Lastly, auditors found that procedures for securing a firearm after a discharge were not adequate.

“It is imperative that Criminal Investigation ensure that all its special agents are well trained,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to potential litigation over injuries or damages.”

TIGTA recommendations, which IRS management agreed with, are that the CID either enforce the Internal Revenue Manual requirement that special agents who do not meet training requirements surrender their firearms, or modify the manual to reflect revised consequences of not meeting training requirements. In addition, TIGTA recommended the establishment of a process for CI headquarters to monitor and periodically review special agent firearms training and qualification records.

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