The Senate voted 54-42 on Thursday to confirm Danny Werfel’s nomination to serve as the IRS commissioner for a five-year term.

Werfel – who has served under both Democratic and Republican administrations – is taking over the agency after it has come under fire for its outdated IT systems and a substantial backlog of tax returns.

He’s also stepping into the new role after the Inflation Reduction Act provided $80 billion of new funding over ten years for the IRS.

The new funding aims to help modernize the agency’s business systems, including nearly $5 billion to hasten work on the agency’s three-year-old IT modernization plan, which had already received $275 million from the fiscal year 2022 budget and a one-time shot of $1 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.

President Obama appointed Werfel to serve as acting commissioner of the IRS in 2013, a role in which the White House said he “provided immediate stability to the IRS.” Werfel also served for over 15 years as the controller of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and has spent the last nine years at Boston Consulting Group.

In his confirmation hearing, he pledged his commitment that cybersecurity and protecting taxpayers’ information will be a “top priority” of his as commissioner.

“When I sat down to think about what are the most important elements of tax administration that I could think of, data security was the first thing I wrote down,” Werfel said.

“I don’t have a good feel for, right now, what the risk profile is, but it is a top priority to understand it because it’s mission-critical,” he added.

President Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 would give the IRS $642 million to improve the taxpayer experience and expand customer service outreach. It would also give the IRS $290 million to upgrade IT systems as part of its Business Systems Modernization initiative.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.