Fedweek

IRS taxpayer assistance centers largely are following pandemic safety standards and protocols, an audit has said while also raising concerns about how well employees clean their workstations after meeting with a member of the public.

The report is the latest by IGs of a number of agencies focusing on health and safety practices at workplaces—and is one of the more positive, concluding that the IRS “generally implemented health and safety measures to help protect individuals (both IRS employees and taxpayers)” at the 20 centers visited.

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“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,” it said.

The centers—which initially were closed due to the pandemic and later were opened to the public on a limited basis—also had taken steps including modifying work stations to provide for spacing, installing glass barriers, limiting seating in waiting areas and posting signs.

On the negative side, auditors said they observed instances of employees wearing masks incorrectly or not maintaining required distancing, but more strongly emphasized compliance with requirements to clean workstations after meeting with taxpayers in-person. Some employees cleaned only their side of the workstation or did not clean it at all, the report said.

The report made no recommendations but added that some 50 IRS employees have died of covid.

Reports by the IGs of agencies including OPM, GSA, SBA and USPS raised more serious concerns about agency safety protections and employee compliance with protocols.

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