Amid Attacks on the IRS, Recognition of the Best of the IRS Whistleblower Office

Now is the time to tell the story of Bob Gardner. Bob retires this week after 37 years of service with the IRS, most recently with the IRS Whistleblower Office.

Bob understands that public service is a noble calling for so many in our government. He epitomizes all that is good in fairly administering our internal revenue laws.

When IRS Whistleblower Office Director Steve Whitlock began hiring for the first “tax whistleblower” office that Congress had authorized in late 2006, Bob Gardner was one of his most important finds. Bob has a wealth of knowledge and perspective on tax issues, built through broad experience as an IRS revenue agent, and then in positions in what is now the IRS Large Business and International Division.

I met Bob when the new IRS Whistleblower Program was in its infancy in 2007. With grace and humor, Bob was always willing to share his experience and knowledge about how the new whistleblower program would operate–well before any “guidance” was announced.

Bob cares about people. Bob has regularly returned calls from me at night, even on federal holidays. Emails from him before 6:00 a.m. were common.

More than once I deliberately called his office on weekends so as not to bother him with non-urgent messages, only to have Bob answer the phone in his office. He had great responsibilities with the Whistleblower Office, but never seemed too busy to try to help with any question or problem.

His co-workers praise Bob as approaching each facet of his work with integrity and fairness. “What is the right thing to do” is his guiding principle, just as it is with every one of the best public servants. The answer is not always favorable to any individual client, but we can ask for nothing more from those who serve in government.

To Steve Whitlock’s credit, Bob’s approach is shared by the other professionals in the Whistleblower Office. They have worked hard to implement Congress’s direction that the first meaningful tax whistleblower program be successful.

We whistleblower attorneys–and the IRS Whistleblower Office–will miss Bob’s deep institutional knowledge.

More broadly, you true IRS professionals who may be discouraged by the current attacks on the IRS should recognize that those who know the heart that you put into your work admire and appreciate you. Any responsible American knows that you serve a vital function in our government. If tax cheats avoid paying their fair share, the rest of us must pay more to make up their share.

Bob, we applaud your service to the American public.

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