The new head of the IRS says he believes the agency is in "the home stretch" of the congressional investigation into the targeting of tea party groups for heightened scrutiny, but admitted that restoring public trust in the agency will take time.
John Koskinen, who was sworn in as commissioner Monday, told reporters the Senate Finance Committee "is working to close its work in the very near future," and that while the House investigations are continuing, the agency has now provided the "vast majority" of the information requested by Congress, USA Today reports.
A spokeswoman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, however, said the process had been protracted because the IRS was not forthcoming with document requests.
"Much of the IRS' effort has apparently been spent on redundant reviews and efforts to identify justifications for limiting what the agency discloses to Congress about the inappropriate targeting of groups because of their political beliefs," Becca Glover Watkins said, according to USA Today.
"The IRS document production has been a frustrating experience. Had the agency decided to err on the side of transparency and followed committee prioritization requests, the process could and should have been completed much sooner. Ultimately, this investigation will conclude after the IRS and Treasury Department have met its legal obligations to produce subpoenaed documents."
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa spearheaded the exhaustive investigation in May after a furor erupted when IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner admitted the agency had been targeting tea party groups for additional scrutiny since 2010.
In many cases conservative groups saw their applications for tax-exempt status delayed while facing intrusive questions about their political activities.
In his comments Monday, Koskinen also acknowledged that the scandal has cost the agency the public's trust but was hopeful faith would ultimately be restored.
"It took a little while to dig the hole, and it's going to take us a little while to get out of it," he said, according to Bloomberg
. "We're not going to turn around public trust overnight, but the proof will be in the pudding."
Koskinen added that proposed new rules should help ensure that the IRS would be "non-political" in order to function properly.
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