Already embroiled in controversy over allegations that it had subjected certain political organizations to severe scrutiny, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled on January 12 its purchase order for surveillance equipment, which had included coffee trays with hidden cameras and cameras that could be hidden in plants. The federal tax agency had issued a rush order for the surveillance equipment on June 6, stating that an “Undisclosed Corporation” would provide the requested equipment and that any competitor would have to show that it could also furnish the gear. The purchase order originally had a June 10 deadline. However, the deadline was extended to June 11. The description of the items requested, according to the purchase order, was "vague due to the use and nature of the items."
"The Internal Revenue Service intends to award a Purchase Order to an undisclosed Corporation," according to the order. "The following descriptions are vague due to the use and nature of the items. If you feel that you can provide the following equiptment [sic], please respond to this email no later than 4 days after the solicitation date."
"Vendors who can provide the required services at prices, terms and conditions equal to or better than those which can be provided by Undisclosed Corporation should submit clear and convincing data in writing substantiating an ability to furnish the entire requirement," said the now-cancelled order.
The IRS has fended off media requests for clarification of the purchase order.
The IRS has been the focus of recent media attention and Congressional inquiry, following allegations by Tea Party groups others who were subjected to greater scrutiny when applying for non-profit status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration showed that groups with containing the word “patriot” in their titles, for example, were singled out and required to complete lengthy personal questionnaires several times. Meanwhile, their nonprofit status was delayed. In some cases, delays took more than three years.
The IG report detailed nearly $50 million in wasteful spending by the IRS on employee conferences. IRS employees were feted at luxurious Las Vegas hotels, while the agency paid a keynote speaker $17,000 to paint several portraits, including a picture of U2 singer Bono, and spent $50,000 on parody videos of “Star Trek.”
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