An IRS technology official at the center of a House investigation into whether he pushed the agency to award contracts potentially worth up to $500 million to a company owned by a personal friend pleaded the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify at a House hearing Wednesday.
A House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report Tuesday said Greg Roseman, an IRS deputy director, may have influenced the IRS to award lucrative IT contracts to Strong Castle, Inc.
The same report also said the company had given the Small Business Administration misleading information to win approval so it could obtain set aside contracts, and that its Veterans Affairs-awarded status as a so-called service disabled veteran company was based on a nearly three decade old foot injury by its owner.
The House investigation also uncovered numerous text messages between Roseman and Strong Castle’s owner, Braulio Castillo. The company was previously called Signet Computers. The committee report said the company had little experience, but Castillo pushed back on that assertion, saying the firm had 15 years experience when he purchased it.
Still, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Ca., the chairman of the committee, said the company had little experience because employees under the previous owner from years ago were no longer around.
Appearing before the committee, Roseman declined to testify other than giving his title, and he declined to say whether he was still employed by the IRS.
The House report called the relationship between Roseman and Castillo “cozy.”
“Text messages … show that Castillo and Roseman had a long-term friendship that extended well beyond a professional relationship,” the report said, adding that many of the messages were vulgar.
Investigators also found a February 2012 email from Roseman to Castillo in which Roseman provided the name of a supervisory contract specialist at the General Services Administration, where Roseman previously worked, who could help Castillo get a contract on GSA’s Schedule 70, a catalog of governmentwide contracts for information technology products and services. In the email, Roseman told Castillo, “I’ve talked to her and she will look into expediting.”
Beth Tucker, a deputy IRS commissioner, said the agency is the process of severing its relationship with Strong Castle.
While Issa said the IRS hadn’t indicated in recent days whether it would continue doing business with the company, Tucker characterized new text messages uncovered in the House probe as a surprise to IRS officials.
She said Roseman was asked by supervisors if he had a personal relationship with Castillo and “he denied it.”
Meanwhile, Castillo said his company won blanket purchase agreements from the IRS, which placed orders that amounted to about $50 million, with most of that money going to the company’s large business partner, IBM.