John Koskinen could be relaxing in retirement, spending time with his four grandchildren.
Instead, he took on the task of running an agency that is both feared and attacked.
As the 48th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Koskinen oversees the management of about 90,000 employees and a budget of about $11 billion. Given his background as a corporate and government troubleshooter, Koskinen was a good go-to choice, even if he does sometimes play hard to get.
When the George W. Bush administration was trying to get him to take the IRS job and found his private cellphone number, he joked, “I need better caller ID.” His answer was no. “This time around, I said I just need counseling,” he said of his decision to accept the Obama administration’s offer.
Koskinen, who has been on the job for a little more than three months, spent 20 years in the private sector and another 20 in government work, primarily dealing with organizations under stress. He steered Freddie Mac during some of its toughest times after the housing market crisis. He also served as deputy mayor and city administrator of Washington, D.C.
The commissioner said in an interview that he wasn’t looking for another job but that this time he couldn’t resist the challenge. He said he told the Obama administration that if it had “some big problem that nobody wants to touch, why, call.”
Except for what he calls the “background noise,” Koskinen says he enjoys taking on complicated circumstances and organizations, sorting things out and getting them to run more efficiently.
The noise he was referring to involves the controversy over the agency’s handling of certain organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Koskinen says the IRS has put into place procedures to prevent a recurrence of the obstacles thrown up by the agency for tea party and other mostly conservative-leaning groups.
SOURCE: Michelle Singletary
The Washington Post