Obama appoints Danny Werfel acting IRS head

Thursday - 5/16/2013, 5:18pm EDT

President Barack Obama has appointed Office of Management and Budget Controller Daniel Werfel to serve as acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, the White House announced Thursday.

The announcement comes after Steven Miller, the former acting head of the agency, resigned Wednesday.

A report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) this week found the IRS improperly singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny leading to widespread condemnation.

Danny Werfel

Obama announced Miller's ouster at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Werfel, 42, will take over at IRS beginning May 22 and has agreed to serve through the end of the fiscal year, the White House said.

Werfel has served as OMB controller since October 2009, where he is responsible for governmentwide policy on financial management. Before being nominated to serve as controller, Werfel performed a number of roles within OMB, including during the Bush administration.

"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 in a statement. "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."

Werfel tackled federal financial management

Werfel has tackled federal financial-management issues with zeal during his tenure at OMB. He frequently championed the growing role played by agency chief financial officers, which he described as "moving beyond the basics of financial statements, and moving directly into a space where the CFO sees across government significant discipline and consistency in how we are tackling some of the other elements of the bottom line of government," in an interview with Federal News Radio last month.

Werfel also took on the task of cutting the government's rate of improper payments, such as government payments made to the deceased or to contractors who owe back taxes. OMB, in part under Werfel's direction, launched a Do Not Pay tool to make it easier for agencies to identify and stop improper payments before they're made.

In a statement, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — Werfel's former boss at OMB — said Obama's pick would be well-suited to the challenge of leading IRS.

"Danny has a strong record of raising his hand for — and excelling at — tough management assignments," Lew said. "He is also a familiar face on Capitol Hill, where he has testified many times and always demonstrates both his characteristic humility and his complete mastery of the subject matter. I am grateful to him for accepting this new challenge, and I am confident that his self-evident integrity and outstanding management skills will make an immediate difference in helping to restore public confidence in the IRS."

The former permanent head of the IRS, Doug Schulman, stepped down in November after his term ended. President George W. Bush appointed Schulman to head the agency in 2008.

OMB vacancies grow

Meanwhile, Werfel's departure from OMB opens up another vacancy at the White House budget office.

Jeff Zients, former deputy OMB deputy director for management, left the agency May 1 after four years on the job — and after multiple stints as acting budget director. The deputy director for budget position is also vacant, although Obama's pick for a replacement, Brian Deese, is currently making his way through confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.

Shelley Metzenbaum, OMB's associate director for personnel and performance, also left the agency earlier this month.

The Senate confirmed Sylvia Burwell to serve as OMB director last month.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)