As for the partisan nature of the latest scandal, Atkinson, who spent years as a compliance officer and lawyer for the agency, sees the problem not as one of political agenda, but rather as an agency caught in the middle of a deeply divided Washington that lacks the expertise and resources to manage all of the competing interests. The IRS's "over-reliance on technology to solve human problems" and its "insular culture" are hurting the agency, she says.
"I feel sorry for the IRS. There are a lot of good people there just doing their jobs and not understanding how to do them," Atkinson says. "It's more of a mess than a conspiracy."