Racial Preferences Suspended at IRS: Memo Cites Court Challenges, Decisions
Lambro, Donald, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Internal Revenue Service has removed racial and other preferential employment considerations from its hiring and promotion standards, according to an IRS memo obtained yesterday by The Washington Times.
The decision is the first time that any federal agency has acted to suspend race-based affirmative-action employment practices. The practices have been challenged in recent court decisions and are under assault in Congress, which could repeal them next year.
The new IRS policy was explained to all of the agency's top officials in a Sept. 22 memo. It announced the agency had "temporarily suspended" portions of the equal employment opportunity and diversity standards in light of recent court decisions and cases that have questioned their constitutionality.
Under the category "Equal Employment Opportunity," the seven-page memo directs all IRS executives and managers to "make employment decisions in areas such as hiring, promotion, training and developmental assignments without regard to sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or prior participation in the EEO process."
The memo, from IRS Personnel Director James O'Malley, maintained that the agency was "committed to provide equal opportunities for all employees and to maximize the benefits of having a diverse workforce."
"However, until analysis of the impact these court cases have on our performance management program are completed, we have temporarily suspended portion of EEO and diversity," the memo said. An earlier memo issued on Aug. 19, signed by IRS Acting Commissioner Michael P. Dolan, notified all of the agency's executive managers that the action was about to be taken.
In that memo, Mr. Dolan told senior executives that "it is advisable to temporarily suspend certain aspects of our performance management system which address expectations or measurements in the area of EEO and diversity. This suspension affects two of the general standards in individual performance."
The IRS action was condemned yesterday by Blacks in Government, a national organization of federal and state government employees, who saw it as the first step in an effort to gradually dismantle affirmative-action programs throughout the government. …