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November 09, 2005

What Do People Who Work at IRS Stand For?

More than 100,000 people work at the IRS. People like Frank, Jeff, Laurie and Linda. In our new world of market, networks, organizations, friends and families, these four and thousands of their colleagues depend on one another every single day for matters of great importance to each of them: job security, benefits, affiliation, shared purpose.

When Frank, Jeff, Laurie and Linda go home at night, they must be able to share with their families and friends, 'what they really stand for' -- that is, what blend of concern for value (job security) and values (the social, political, and other beliefs and behaviors) prevail at the IRS, whether they agree, and, if not, what they are doing about it. This fundamental reality -- what do the organizations we work for really stand for - applies as much to Frank, Jeff, Laurie, Linda and others at the IRS as it does to folks who work at organizations from the humongous (Wal-Mart) to the tiny (your local barbershop).

All of which raises this question for Frank, Jeff, Laurie, Linda and their thousands of colleagues:

Does the singling out of this Episcopal church on the grounds of promoting a political result represent the values you really stand for?

If yes, will you demand that your colleagues now investigate and deny tax status to Baptist churches that promote opposite political results?

If no, what are you -- yes, you -- doing -- today -- to communicate and take other steps to stop the action against this Episcopal church?

Look, folks, we live in a complicated world. In this world, we must rely on employees and executives of organizations to hold themselves accountable for serving the rest of us well.

Should people beyond the IRS take action with regard to what appears to be a unilateral strike in favor of one side of the political process? Yes, of course.

But at the end of the day, efficiency, effectiveness and morality demand that the people best positioned to stop such uneven practices-- the employees and executives of organizations -- take those steps. They are better positioned, more involved, have more information, have the relationships and other means because they work together every day and -- critically -- have much more at stake including their character as human beings.

It's their job. And, it's their 21st century 'community' -- the 'community', the 'town' we call the IRS. We just learned, for example, that the folks who live in Dover, Pennsylvania debated and chose what Dover stood for on the issue of intelligent design. Well, most of us no longer live out our lives in the context of geographic towns like Dover. We live our lives in more complicated ways -- including in the 'towns' and 'communities' we call our organizations.

It's our responsibility -- as employees and executives -- in these organizations to both choose and follow through on what 'we really stand for'.

So, Frank, Jeff, Laurie and Linda: Which is it?

The even handed policy and practice of denying churches tax exempt status if they promote candidacies or political positions synonymous with candidacies?

Or, the even handed choice to leave churches alone and devote the IRS's limited resources in other ways?

What do you really stand for?

Posted by Doug Smith on November 9, 2005 12:36 PM | Permalink

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» What Do People Who Work at IRS Stand For (Part 2)? from Douglas K Smith
In an earlier post, I asked what values were shared at IRS among the people who work there with regard to their commitment to fairness as opposed to politically-motivated intimidation. The executives and employees of IRS -- like executives and... [Read More]

Tracked on January 12, 2006 12:42 PM