Regarding the editorial, "Incompetence at the IRS" (June 27), you state: "But recent testimony ... has conjured up a new image for the IRS — clueless, bureaucratic, disorganized and technologically incompetent." May I say, as one who has followed the Internal Revenue Service for many years, that this is not new. Members of Congress have known this for years and have contributed to the situation in various ways. Republicans are now pointing this out because they can make political hay out of it. No one has ever lost an election by criticizing the IRS.

What has been known for years at not only the IRS but also at other federal agencies is that there are serious problems with personnel, working conditions and funding. The IRS may have 90,000 employees, but many are unable or unwilling to do their assigned tasks yet they for all practical purposes cannot be fired. Meanwhile, the best IT professionals will not work for the federal government since they can make more and in better surroundings in the private sector. While the IRS does have many dedicated employees, how effective can they be if there is little training and if they work in fear of congressional witch hunts?

Most of the problems at the IRS could have been addressed by Congress, but members of Congress have chosen to look the other way. Republicans are determined to starve "the beast" while Democrats refuse to reform the civil service system to make it work for the American people.

Paul Streckfus, Pasadena

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