Obama Names OMB Official as Acting IRS Commissioner

Obama names Danny Werfel to fill the top job at the IRS.

ByABC News
May 16, 2013, 1:45 PM

May 16, 2013— -- President Obama today appointed Office of Management and Budget official Danny Werfel to serve as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Werfel, 42, replaces Steven Miller, who was asked to resign Wednesday in the wake of revelations that IRS employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups.

"Throughout his career working in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Danny has proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity and skill," Obama said. "The American people deserve to have the utmost confidence and trust in their government, and as we work to get to the bottom of what happened and restore confidence in the IRS, Danny has the experience and management ability necessary to lead the agency at this important time."

READ MORE: Why Tax-Exempt Groups Are a Political Minefield for the IRS

Werfel, who is controller of the OMB, is responsible for straightening up financial management in government agencies.

He will start at the IRS May 22, and has agreed to serve in the temporary position until Oct. 1.

And on Thursday, a second IRS official announced that he would be leaving the agency in the wake of the scandal. Joseph Grant, who only recently became Commissioner of Tax Exempt Organizations and Government Entities a week ago, will retire on June 3. Before that, Grant was deputy commissioner of the scandal-plagued unit.

The IRS shuffle comes after Obama said earlier today that there is no need for a special counsel to investigate the IRS' targeting of conservative groups.

"My main concern is fixing a problem and we began that process yesterday by asking and accepting the resignation of the acting director there," Obama said during a drizzly Rose Garden news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "We will be putting in new leadership that will be able to make sure that -- following up on the [inspector general's] audit -- that we're gathering up all the facts, that we hold accountable those who had taken these unacceptable actions.

"I think that it's going to be sufficient for us to be working with Congress. They've got a whole bunch of committees; we've got IGs already there," he added.

Obama said the inspector general has recommended an investigation after releasing its own report on the agency's actions this week. And Attorney General Eric Holder has launched an FBI inquiry into whether any criminal laws were broken at the IRS.

"Between those investigations I think we're going to be able to figure out exactly what happened, who was involved, what went wrong and we're going to be able to implement steps to fix it," Obama continued.

Obama reiterated that no one in his administration told him about the inspector general's IRS investigation before he read about it in media reports.

"I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked to the press," Obama said. "I promise you this: that the minute I found out about it, my main focus has been making sure that we get the thing fixed."

Obama announced Wednesday that his treasury secretary had requested and accepted the resignation of the acting IRS Commissioner Miller. Miller, however, would not have been allowed to continue as acting commissioner in less than a month, unless he was re-appointed as the interim commissioner or Obama nominated someone permanently to the post.

Obama said today that a new acting commissioner would be appointed to replace Miller.

Miller is scheduled to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday morning to testify on the scandal.

The 25-year IRS veteran, who also serves as the deputy commissioner for Services and Enforcement, is responsible for overseeing the unit that unduly singled out conservative groups with names like "tea party" or "patriot" for more than two years.

The IRS says that the errors have been fixed but, with the exception of Miller, it has not announced any other disciplinary actions against IRS employees responsible for targeting these groups.