The inspector general at the IRS has found that agency offices generally were in compliance with pandemic safety protocols but the same was not true of the employees working in those offices.
Auditors visited nine sites in March when social distancing and mask wearing requirements were stricter than those in current use for employees who have been vaccinated. However, with the most recent resurgence of infections, some tightening of such policies already has occurred and more may lie ahead.
“Overall, the IRS generally implemented health and safety measures to help protect individuals at the nine facilities. The IRS had an adequate supply of face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or other cleaning supplies on-site, and these items were generally available in common areas or near shared equipment for individuals to use” and had posted signs “to help inform and remind individuals of health and safety procedures,” the report said.
Further, the IRS ”implemented modifications at all nine facilities to help maintain social distancing. Examples of these modifications include separating employee desks, posting occupancy limit signs at elevators and in conference and meeting rooms, and limiting seating and self-service food tasks in cafeterias and break rooms.”
However, while all onsite employees were required at the time to maintain six feet of distancing when possible and to wear masks, auditors observed employees “walking together in hallways, sitting together and eating in the cafeteria or break rooms, and working together in cubicles” and some wearing masks improperly—including “below the chin or off the face completely”—or wearing masks not meeting the standards.
“Moreover, we did not observe any personnel enforcing the mask requirement at any of the nine facilities,” the report said.