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DRITA: So we can see you.


So apparently we are recording the meeting.

Is that all right with you, Mike?

MIKE DESMOND: That's fine with me.

I'm making records anymore.

So this is fine.

DRITA: Terrific.


Yes, but we can always use it against you.

MIKE: This is true.

But it'll just to add to the library.


DRITA: Yes, yes.

So welcome.

And thank you all for joining us as we pay tribute to the amazing job that Mike did as our Chief Counsel.

He was our 48th Chief Counsel.

He was confirmed by the Senate on February 27th.

And he was sworn in on March 8, 2019 in our lobby hallway here in the building in DC.

And his parents were there at that time.

So it is really fitting that your parents and your wife, so Kristen is still there on the screen, were able to join us when we said hello to you.

And they are here sadly when we say farewell to you.

So we want to all and as you can tell, we did this as a Zoom call because we wanted to have everyone in the Office of Chief Counsel participate and say thank you and say farewell to you.

You were here for two years and you made a huge difference in that two year period.

And we won't go through everything because I'm sure that all the speakers will list all the amazing things that you did in a very short time.

But anyway, I want to just start by saying thank you from the entire IRS Chief Counsel.

Not only the leadership team, but all of the people here.

True to your wishes, we have limited this just to the Chief Counsel folks.

Because I know that had we planned this as a usual meeting, I'm pretty confident that we would have had double the number of people join us.

I know you had a lot of friends just across the board, whether it was the tax court or the folks, the practitioners on the other side, treasury, the Department of Justice, where you had a short stint.

I know that there are lots of people that would have been able to join us.

But we are honoring your wish to keep it small and low key.

So we only invited roughly 1,000 of our best friends here.

MIKE DESMOND: Small and low key, Drita, yes.

DRITA: Yes, yes.

So I'm going to introduce all the speakers.

And so we're going to have the Commissioner and the folks on the IRS side first.

And then Bill and I will go after Bill.

But then following that we hope that you have time, we're going to open it up initially to the executives.

And I would ask that for the other folks out there in the field and in the National Office, if you'd like to please don't hesitate to leave a chat message.

And we'll collect those chat messages and we'll give them to Mike and Kristen later.

So with that, I will introduce someone who needs no introduction.

Our Commissioner, Chuck Reddick, is the 49th Commissioner.

And he began his term just a short time before you did.

The only difference, the reason why we still have him on this side, is that he is subject to a term which we were really pleased that kept him here.

We wished that you were in the same boat.

Anyway, when he started he could not have predicted that you would be his Chief Counsel and that we would have gone through a pandemic, which I think is the one thing that is going to mark both of your tenures here.

CHUCK REDDICK: We didn't cause that pandemic, let's [INAUDIBLE].

DRITA: I know you did that plant it so that you could shine.

But in any case, I will turn it over to you Commissioner for a few words relating to Mike.

CHUCK REDDICK: Yeah, obviously, it goes without saying that I've known Mike long time.

Mike and I would be the first to tell you how privileged we were to be on this journey and especially to be on this journey together.

I could not have picked anybody that I would have rather been on this journey with as Chief Counsel than Mike.

From every perspective, every time, we would communicate on average half a dozen times a day.

And on more than a few occasions there were calls 10:30, 11 o'clock on a Saturday night followed by a meeting right after that Saturday night.

And no beer involved.

These involve all kinds of things that were in flight.

To have really a partner as you're going through the situations that we've gone through all of us collectively together but also Mike and I.

There were fire drills on a daily basis that would impact literally hundreds of millions of people.

If it went in one direction or another direction.

And Mike has a tremendous ability to take the most complex difficult issues, whether it's in the technical aspects of the law or whether it is just really application, and string it together so that it's understood by everybody not just by myself.

But we could go over to Treasury, he would go up to the hill, and I would say I've known pretty much every Chief Counsel since 1982 to different degrees since 1982.

There absolutely has never been a better Chief Counsel.

But Mike, at least on our side and looking at Mike and I know I'm speaking for everybody on our side and Jeff and Sunita and everybody else, we didn't look at Mike as a Chief Counsel.

We looked at Mike as Mike Desmond.

You could trust his judgment.

You could explain something to him.

He would take it and run with it.

The number of times that I was in the car with Mike and we're coming back from wherever we were, and he says I've got the pen on this.

And it was the pen on a critical piece of something that literally was impacting hundreds of millions of people.

And by the way, we needed to have it done today.

We needed to take a position, issue a statement, issue a this, issue a that, today.

So there was no time in the ordinary sense that many of us, I was a lawyer on the outside, we have time to reflect, put something in writing, and then come back and look at it a little bit later maybe.

We were doing things in flight and it was really Mike.

And so it was a game changer for the agency.

It was a game changer I know certainly for counsel.

The way that he embraced people.

The way he embraced counsel lawyers and respected counsel lawyers I think is unparalleled.

And to have all of that in such a humble person.

I'm talking about myself when I say humble, but you know.

No, but he is the most humble, best person you can ever have to go on any journey with.

And Mike knows this, but I felt close with Mike that he would come on this journey because we had similar thoughts when we were on the outside and kind of in process.

And it's great to say, yeah, you come on board.

You're a tax lawyer.

One of the epitomes of your career is to be Chief Counsel.

There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

It did for Mike and Kristin, similarly for Tam and I and others.

It changed our lives to come to help other people with no regrets from any of the four of us.

And as everybody's talking about Mike today, remember it's Mike and Kristen.


I mean, they are a team.

And she was every part of every sacrifice that Mike made, Kristen made.

And when you come from this from the outside in this manner, I couldn't say enough.

And one of the beauties I thought of being with Mike on this journey was I had never been a client before.

I had only been a lawyer.

There we go.

There's Kristen.

I had only been the lawyer before, but I had clients tell me no.

The first time I actually got to tell my lawyer no was to Mike.

And he came in and he said, something's non-negotiable.

And I said, no, I'm not going to do that.

He goes, no, no.

It's non-negotiable.

I go listen.

I'm the client here.

And he found a workaround.

That's spectacular.

That is the ultimate lawyering.

Get us from where we are to where we need to be in a manner that everybody understands what happened between those two points.

So I'm not going to continue.

I know I've used up more of my time, and Drita, I apologize for that.

But Mike and Kristen, both of you forever have a place in our heart for Tam, for myself, and for every employee at the IRS.

You made a huge difference.

You made a tremendous personal sacrifice.

And I know that it's easy for other people to say, yeah, but he was Chief Counsel.

Mike would have done exactly what Mike did if you gave him that evergreen, what is it grade 14 that you keep talking about Mike?

Lawyer position and would have worked as hard.

He's a seven day a week guy if people aren't familiar.

And when we would go to dinner, he did want to talk about the 163(j) regs because we both knew coming in we have a limited amount of time here and we want to make a difference.

And Kristen, thank you.

You've made a tremendous difference for all of us.

You know you're part of our family and you're part of our heart as is Mike.

So now we have the things to look back on.

But personally and on behalf of every employee at the Internal Revenue Service, everybody the IRS interacts with, a huge thank you to you both.

And we could not have had better people to go with.

To Mike's parents, I had the privilege of meeting them.

I had the privilege of having dinner with them.

You did OK.

That boy's got some potential.

A little work around the edges for the rest of us.

But thank you for sharing Mike with us.

Kristen, thank you for sharing.

Mr. and Mrs. Desmond, thank you for sharing.

Really, really spectacular.

You're going to hear a lot of really good things and know that everything everybody's telling you today is from the heart.

And we love this guy.

I love Mike.

I love Kristen.

Love each of you.

You're all part of our family.

So with that, I'll turn it back.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Commissioner.

DRITA: Thank you, Commissioner.

Thank you for those kind words Commissioner and Mike of course deserves them.

And you were a phenomenal dynamic duo.

So next we're going to turn it to Sunita Lough, who also doesn't need an introduction.

She is our Deputy Commissioner Services and Enforcement since roughly July of 2019.

So with that, Sunita, I will turn it to you.


When I became the Deputy Commissioner, which was actually October of 2019, I was so glad Mike was there.

You just have no idea how comfortable it is to have somebody, a lawyer, who has your back.

And Mike, you are.

I haven't known all that you've counseled since 1982.

I'm far too young to know that many Chief Counsel since 1982.

But I've known a number of them.

And I have to say, you are the best.

I mean, I think you're going to be the best for a very, very long time because you really understand the IRS.

You really understand government.

You were proactive in helping us, in finding solutions.

And the most important thing to me is that you were the right lawyer for the right time because we went through a very challenging time in the last few years.

And the fact that you understand tax administration, it could be were in treasury or could be you just are so interested in working with your client and you learned it, made a huge difference.

You are not just a techie.

I mean it's great to have a great techie.

Mind me, I don't put that down that way.

But you are real.

Because I've been on a lawyer on the outside, and I know that the best law is somebody who really understands the client, the clients business.

And you are one of those.

And I'll keep it short.

One word I did learn from you.

No, two words.

I learned from you which I had never used before was dumpster fires.

I had never used that before or heard that, but together we put out a lot of dumpster fires in the last year or so that I worked with you directly.

So I thank you for being a great fireman, helping us put them out because any one of them could have caused a huge, huge mess for us.

But the fact that you were on duty and way beyond duty, it's really very appreciated.

And I completely agree with the Commissioner that you are a humble person.

I mean, you have the best interest of the taxpayers in the country at heart above all.

And that's a public servant.

And you're one and I want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Desmond and Kristen for lending you to us for a short time.

So best of luck.

And I wish you the best.

And keep in touch.

MIKE DESMOND: Absolutely.

SUNITA LOUGH: Thank you.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Sunita.

DRITA: Thank you, Sunita.

And next we're going to hear from Jeff Tribiano.

And Jeff actually is our Deputy Commissioner of Operations.

He started, I'm going to get this wrong so you'll correct me, Jeff, June of 2015.

And I do remember your start because almost out of the gate you were testifying in Congress about C4.

So it was trial by fire I think as it was.

But I have to say the pandemic is just a little bit above that.

So with that, I will turn it to you.

JEFF TRIBIANO: Well, thanks, Drita.

And it's always hard Mike to follow the Commissioner and Sunita, and be keeping with the concept of making it short, I just want to make sure that you understand how much we have appreciated you.

And I want to thank you just for your service to our country.

I don't know how you're going to view this three, four, or five years from now.

But just know that you made a huge difference in a very short window of time.

And I always like trying to use quotes and I'm going to paraphrase one of them.

And the reason I'm going to use this one because I do think it says something about you.

In the quote, you can look it up actually the true words to it, but it's from Alexander the Great.

And he said that I do not fear an army of lions led by a sheep, I fear an army of sheep that is led by a lion.

And Mike you are that lion.

And I use that very rarely especially for non-military personnel.

But you are that lion.

And we are better because you stepped into the role you stepped into.

And you truly have made a difference.

And it has been my honor to have served alongside of you for the amount of time that you were there.

And I do thank you and your family for your dedication.

And know, again, that you have made a difference to this country and to the people that we serve.

And we will always be grateful for that.

So thank you, Mike.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Jeff, very nice.


Thank you, Jeff.

You could not have said it better.

All right.

So next I'm going to just call on him and some of the other speakers, I'm not entirely sure I see them because there are more than 785 folks.

But Ken Corbin asked to speak.

So Ken, I don't see you on the Zoom call, are you on the call?

KEVIN: Hey Drita, this is Kevin.

So I think Ken and unfortunately Nancy and perhaps Diane are on a treasury call for some very exigent type activities.

So hopefully they'll get a chance to join at the end, but they may be still occupied at the moment.

SUNITA LOUGH: Putting out dumpster fires.


Sounds like EIP3.

CHUCK REDDICK: Hey Mike, if I give you a number can you call into that treasury call for us?


Let me just put you on mute here for a minute and I'll take care of that.

DRITA: Yeah.

Well hopefully they'll be able to join us when that call is over.

So next, Bill, I'm going to call on you.

And you all know Bill.

He started as our Deputy Chief Counsel Technical back in 2016.

And then very soon after that on January 20, 2017 he was called on to be our acting Chief Counsel.

Little did he know that he was going to be in that rule for almost two years with the little break of the RA break in between.

And then he's been called upon by your departure to be our acting Chief Counsel.

So Bill with that, I'll turn it over to you.

BILL: Thanks, Drita.

So Mike, I'm sure you remember how often I would say to you, I'm really glad you're here.

And it'd usually be after you had described to me some phone call you had with a certain person at Treasury or how do you stayed up all night dealing with the Hill on the COVID, the Cares Act first and later the COVID Relief Act.

And it's really hard to accept the fact that you're gone.

As everybody said, you were a great Chief Counsel.

It's really a shame that it was such a short tour.

But I'm thankful for all the things you did for the office while you were here.

It was tremendous.

And as good as you were carrying out the job of being the Chief Counsel and the responsibilities, what meant more to me and I think meant more to others as some people have already said today is really the kind of person you are and your qualities.

And just a few of them that come to mind for me, unassuming, which I guess is similar to humble other people have mentioned.

Your genuineness.

I mean, some people when you deal with them you're dealing with a facade or an act and that's not at all true in dealing with you, you feel like you're really connecting directly with you.

Your thoughtfulness and consideration of others, particularly when they're going through difficult times.

Your sensitivity to peoples situations and their feelings.

And your conscientiousness about everything it was just spectacular.

And I think of myself as having a pretty good disposition I would say or at least I used to until I got to know you, you've got the most positive attitude of anybody I've ever known.

And it's infectious.

It has a big impact on people.

And one thing I think that's a testament to that and you may not have heard this yet, we recently got at least some of the preliminary results from the annual FEV survey.

And Mr. and Mrs. Desmond and Kristen, this is a survey of the employees and Chief Counsel.

It's done annually.

Bunch of questions asking them things like, are you happy in your job?

What do you think your leaders?

Things like that.

And somehow during the COVID pandemic not only did we maintain our level of overall satisfaction and confidence in leaders, but the scores have gone up dramatically.

The overall satisfaction was up 9%, ratings of senior leaders was up 10%, employees who said they would recommend the Office of Chief Counsel is a good place to work is up over 10%.

So that's just amazing.

And more than anyone Mike, you deserve the credit for these results.

So again, I want to thank you for all you've done for the office.

And best of luck to you and Kristen.

Thank you, MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Bill.

Thank you.

Very nice.

DRITA: Thanks, Bill.

You stole a little bit of my thunder.

So next time I will go Mike.

So I want to start by saying that you had an incredible two year run literally and figuratively because I know the whole time you were running.

First and foremost, employee morale and employee engagement.

Out of the gate you came on board and the first thing, the most important thing for you was communicating with the workforce.

Now I know in the first year you had the ability to travel.

You visited more offices in that short one year period than most others visited in two, three, and four years.

I think your goal was to go to every office, but you didn't realize you had a time limit on that when the pandemic started because you certainly would have visited every single office.

And that's not all that you did.

Of course, you immediately started the monthly newsletter with folks because I think it was very important to you to be in constant communication with folks.

And I think that was remarkable.

I think people loved it.

And then when the pandemic hit, you recognized how important it was for people to hear from you as their leader.

And so you started the weekly calls.

And there came a point in time where we thought, oh my goodness, we've run out of things to say.

Maybe we should pair back.

And people wanted us to continue to talk to them on a weekly basis.

And they really appreciated that.

And you can tell from the numbers, I think we're hitting the limit on Zoom here.

And then of course the employee engagement that Bill just mentioned.

I really do think it's important.

I don't know what the overall ranking of our office is going to be when the dust settles, but I have no doubt that it's going to be remarkable.

The changes that we have made.

First and foremost, the participation rate over the course of the last three years it went up tremendously.

So we thought we had hit the ceiling.

And yet, we had a 76% participation rate.

That in a government organization is really unprecedented.

So we went up and I don't remember the score, but in the 10% range.

That's remarkable.

During a pandemic.

And I know that the leadership score went up really high and I give you 100% credit for that because we were at 71%, which is a respectable number.

But you brought us to 78.6%.

That's a over 10% increase.

Really remarkable.

And the question that people always ask is, do you believe that the results of the survey are going to be used?

That is a historically low number for any government agency.

It's usually in the low 40s.

And our score went from 50 or 49.8% to 58.6.


Now I thought, oh my, that's still a low score.

And well, there's room to grow.

There's at least 40, almost 42% to go.

But that is a complete and direct result of all the effort that you made because you were connecting the dots.

You were actually listening to people and saying, OK, here's what we're going to do as a result of this.

And it's just remarkable.

And you didn't stop there obviously.

The people in the office are very important to you.

And so recruiting a diversity was one of your projects.

And you partnered with Judge Foley from the tax court.

And I don't remember the number, but I think it's an incredible number, certainly over a dozen but more like in the two dozen and above range, that you went to different law schools.

And you didn't stop at the law schools because you knew and you understand that in order to recruit good talent and especially make sure that we have diversity in the office, you've got to start a lot sooner.

And so as a result, you worked with the Tiger Woods Foundation to speak to high school students who were embarking on their college careers to try to get them interested in law and in tax law in particular so that we can start generating more interest in tax law.

And you did it selflessly because you didn't expect that they would come to us.

I mean, your objective is to get more students, diverse students, into the law period.

And you also change the way that we recruit.

Before we used to put out a vacancy announcements and kind of wait to see what we got.

And you put an end to that.

You said, that is not how we recruit.

We put a vacancy announcement out there and we do everything in our power to generate interest among the people that really, really should be here.

And it includes social media, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and actual visits virtual or otherwise to schools, and contacts to the various professors.

I think out of the gate you spoke to a bunch of professors.

You have connections everywhere.

And I think it has been remarkable the level of folks that we have been able to bring into counsel has grown exponentially because of you Mike.

And then on the diversity front, you supported the cohort groups that we've established.

And we've established a number of them.

A number of minority based and focus groups, a veterans group, a disability group.

I mean, you name it.

And this is not something that's ever existed in the Office of Chief Counsel.

And as if that is not enough, as I said earlier, when the pandemic hit, we went to 100% telework overnight.

And that was a decision you made.

And it was a no brainer for you, but it took a lot of courage to do that overnight.


And I know and I have said this many times before, that as a result of that single decision you have saved lives.

I don't know how many.

And thankfully, we have not had any losses in Chief Counsel at least not from COVID.

And so we thank you for making those tough decisions that you made that really helped our organization tremendously.

The other thing that happened as a result of the pandemic is we're in our offices over Zoom and so not able to go to the tax court.

But you started that dialogue with the tax court not only with Judge Foley, but Judge Pugh, and Judge [INAUDIBLE],, and judge Toro, and others so that we would be ready.

And I'm so pleased to say that we have not heard a single complaint about our attorneys.

The complaints that we're hearing is about the big law firms that are hesitant to do Zoom trials.

So at this point in time, I'm going to inflate just a little bit, I think the number is 76, but I'm going to say we have 80 virtual trials under our belt thanks to you.

And today as we speak, there is actually a case being tried, an easement case.

So thank you for that Mike.

And you also embraced as the Commissioner did settlements days, which were in-person proceedings for pro say taxpayers to come and potentially meet a LITC clinicians as well as pro Bono folks.

And you embraced that.

And since we've been virtual, we've on them virtually.

And I don't know that these numbers all come from the settlement days, but we've settled over 10,000 cases in that span of time.

When you think about the court's inventory of about a roughly 25,000, that's a significant percentage.

And so you prepared us for that.

In other words, we did not skip a beat. thanks to Mike.

And last as Sunita highlighted, the work with the client really has been remarkable.

I must say and I'll say this out loud, our clients usually don't like lawyers very much.

They need us so they bring us in because they have to.

But in your case Mike, they brought you in and you were truly a part of the team.

EIP 1, EIP 2, and EIP 3 when it happens, you have blazed that trail you have smoothed that road for things to go as quickly as possible.

I mean, from my vantage point Commissioner the fact that we were able to do EIP 1 as quickly as we did was remarkable.

And then when we not only met but beat that that time frame in EIP 2, that's again, the credit goes to people like Mike, like the Commissioner, like Sunita, like Jeff, and Nancy, and Ken Corbin, all working as a team rowing in the same direction.

And I know that if Ken was here, I saw the Dave Alito was here, he would echo the sentiment and Nancy Sieger.

Again, you worked tirelessly, weekends, evenings to make everything happen.

And I know that, Kristen, was a huge sacrifice on your part.

I mean, obviously, it was a sacrifice on his part to give up his free time.

But it was also a huge sacrifice on your part.

I don't know honestly how do you do it, but you did it.

And you supported him.

Because every day he came in with that bright disposition.

He was never down, he was never tired.

So whatever you did, it worked.

So I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the great work that you've done here.

And just the great relationships that you've formed not only with me and Bill, but with all of our executives.

And I know that some of them have indicated that they want to speak as well.

So I just want to leave you with an Irish blessing.

May the wind always be at your back and the sun upon your face.

And may the wings of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars because I do think you have remarkable things ahead of you as well.

CHUCK REDDICK: Drita, you left off the part, and the rags be in your briefcase so that you can brief us next week.

DRITA: Yes and that part too.

And be on that treasury call in the next hour.

So I want to turn it to you first before we start going around because I think some of the other folks wanted to speak.

But I want to tell you that we've done a couple of things.

We've had people write to a kudo board.

And I had never heard of a kudo board until just recently.

So it is messages that people will leave just as they are leaving on the chat.

But we'll turn all those over to you.

And I know that there are quite a number of them.

And then we also did the virtual version of a seal.

So all of our executives were able to write messages on the seal.

So we're going to have the seal delivered to you at some point.

I think it is virtually complete.

And then we have a small token of our gratitude, which we will figure out a way to get to you.

And with that, I want to turn it over to you first.

And then I'd like to open it up to others if they have additional things to say.

And by the way, we expected fully that this was going to go well beyond the time that we have set.

MIKE DESMOND: Well, thank you very much Drita, and Commissioner, and Jeff, and Sunita, and Bill for your comments.

I'm at something of a loss for words so I will keep this short.

I do miss you all terribly.

I miss the work terribly.

The work was the most satisfactory, engaging, challenging work I have ever done by orders of magnitude.

And it's hard to go from doing that as I've told a number of people 24/7 running at 110 miles an hour to just jumping out the back of the airplane here.

But that's the nature of the process.

And I do understand that process has to play out and my moving on is a part of that process.

So important that that happens.

There are obviously far too many people on this call and at counsel and at the IRS to even begin to mention.

I had I think as Drita mentioned a somewhat unique opportunity to meet if not all 2,000 employees in counsel a fair percentage of them.

And one of the regrets I have of the pandemic is I wasn't able to meet with and engage in person with everyone.

That was certainly one of my challenges and goals when I came into the office and that was cut short a little bit by the pandemic.

But as Drita said, I think we had a number of opportunities to continue that engagement and very pleased to hear some of the results from the FEV survey.

That meant a lot to me and I think is a reflection upon not only of the leadership in counsel, but also everyone at counsel most importantly.

So a number of things have been said.

I can probably talk about some of the most rewarding and challenging issues that we dealt with over the course of my tenure.

There are just maybe two that come to mind that I think all of you have spoken to in one way or another.

One is the response that counsel had and this is really everyone in counsel to the pandemic.

Really a remarkable response.

And I think it's a testament to all 2,000 employees at counsel.

In many respects although I was there just about every day, Drita, Bill, and Arlene were as well, Commissioner and others on the Commissioner's side, I almost noticed no difference when we shifted to a virtual environment.

The work that needed to be done got done.

I heard almost no complaints or concerns.

The counsel workforce down to the brand new attorneys and staff members that came off the street and never came into an office, but were able to get on board remotely did that from my perspective seamlessly.

A real remarkable accomplishment to keep the important work of counsel in the IRS moving forward.

And I fight that as one of the particular accomplishments of the office over the last two years because I think there will be real long term benefits for that.

My tenure I think was far shorter than I would have hoped it would have been, but it is very encouraging for me to see that things that we learned from the pandemic will pay dividends for the office and for the IRS, and really for the entire organization and all the work that we do for all Americans to raise revenue.

We'll continue to pay dividends for years to come.

The remote trials that we did in tax court, are doing in tax court.

Some of the virtual signatures and authentication issues the IRS is able to accomplish.

Really taking things off of a paper environment, moving them to a virtual environment to allow greater access for more Americans to the tax system, greater access to justice through the tax court.

Those kinds of things were obviously caused by the exigencies of the pandemic, but will continue to pay dividends for many, many years to come.

And I think everyone gets a lot of credit for that.

A silver lining of the pandemic, but certainly something we'll continue to see.

The second thing that I think Drita did talk about that I was always very focused on and again, I point to it because it will continue to pay dividends is the work that was started before I came on board to reverse a decade long trend in hiring.

When I was on board we were able to see a net increase in our attorney and employee headcount for the first time really in a decade.

Really that started before I came on board with some of the additional funding that Congress gave us as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

But that did turn around a decade of declining hiring, staffing, and funding for the agency as a whole.

And that continued for my entire two year tenure there.

And it continued into the appropriations bill that we saw at the December.

And from counsel's perspective, I think as I was walking out the door some of the statistics we got, numbers we got, that we may be able to bring on up to 200 maybe even more new attorneys in the next year or so.

And that is a remarkable turnaround from the place we were for as I said, almost a decade before that.

And that kind of thing and some of the groundwork that the Drita and others were able to work with me on to do the recruiting, to outreach, reach out to not only law students and all the programs we did at law schools, but also the colleges, and even drilling down to students interested in law in high school to really a pipeline that will be there for a number of years to come.

And to bring on a diverse talented group of lawyers and other employees that can work with counsel and work on our mission for the years and even decades to come.

So many of the retirement parties that I've been to virtually and in person over the last two years are people that have been with counsel for decades.

And it's a testament to the recruiting that brought them on board years ago and hopefully a little groundwork was laid for that over the last two years to bring more people on board and really drive something that will pay dividends for the organization, for the IRS, and for all taxpayers for years to come.

So beyond that, there are obviously many, many accomplishments.

That shift to a remote work environment was instrumental in allowing all of the work that we already had on our plates before the pandemic came on, TCJ implementation in particular.

To continue unabated, to get so much guidance out.

I think the most significant change to our tax law in a generation occurred right before I came on board, TCJ.

And all I would like to say principal guidance implementing that was out by the end of last year, beginning of this year.

Really a remarkable streak of productivity that happened not only would it be remarkable under the best of circumstances, it was some of the worst of circumstances with a pandemic.

But that work still got done.

An amazing testament to the dedication of all counsel employees.

And as I said, that happened it was really transparent to me, but I know it was not without significant personal sacrifice by all the employees who are working from their kitchen tables.

Working to manage day care situations with kids who aren't in school.

All of those kinds of challenges that everyone faced and was able to work.

So really a remarkable testament to the dedication and commitment of all counsel employees that I will always remember and be grateful for.

So as I said, there are 2,000 employees I would love to mention and talk about.

I think I met many of them, if not most of them during my tenure.

And we could probably turn this into a college graduation where we go through all of them for the next couple of hours.

But I don't think I want to do that nor do I think any of you.

But do know that each one of you was very important to me.

And I'll miss all of the interactions.

And those of you I did not get a chance to meet in person, we'll blame that on the pandemic.

But I certainly had a goal to do that when I started.

There are just a very small number of people that I will mention.

Commissioner, you gave me some comments.

I think I owe you a debt of gratitude for getting me on board in the first place.

I know as I was waiting for the phone to ring for about six months there, maybe even longer, you were calling everybody and leaning on anyone who would listen to get me on board.

So instrumental in doing that.

And I appreciate all your efforts.

I know you also went out of your way to try to keep me on board at the end.

I will be forever grateful for that as well.

Didn't work out quite as well as the first lobbying effort, but I do appreciate all of the energy and enthusiasm.

And as I said, I recognize the importance of me moving on to the whole system.

So well on a personal level I wish I could have stayed for a number of months and even a number of years and worked on the mission with you.

I do recognize the need to move on.

Also Sunita and Jeff, you've been amazing partners.

I think what we were able to do is Drita said in really stitching together counsel and our client.

I don't have a sense of how that worked in the past, at least a direct sense of that, but hopefully we're able to do some good work in really connecting with the counsel side with the client side.

No attorney can be efficient and effective without knowing the client and that was certainly one of my goals coming on board.

And having a pre-existing relationship with the Commissioner and having worked with so many people on the client side, hopefully has again, done something that will pay some dividends for years to come.

Within counsel, Drita and Bill you've been just an amazing two deputies for the last two years.

Bill, you are now on your second or I guess maybe even third tenure as acting Chief Counsel.

And you get enormous credit for doing that.

So I wish I could have stayed on and kept you away from some of those fun topics for a little bit longer.

But I know you'll handle them very well.

On a personal level, I will greatly miss our regular conversations.

Bill, as those of you who know him is a very engaging technical lawyer.

Extremely accomplished and intelligent, and not only on the tax law, but on a wide range of subjects.

Very well read.

And I look forward every day to the few minutes that we had together in the morning and the afternoon to go through our particular list of technical issues and talk about not only the tax issues, but also all other topics current developments of the day.

Really a very meaningful part of the job to have the opportunity to work with you Bill.

I know we worked together in much more limited capacities in the past, but that is something I will always look back on.

And Drita, as the Deputy Chief Counsel for Operations, Drita as many of you know has been with counsel for almost all, not her entire career but most of her career, and has still come into the office every single day with more dedication and enthusiasm.

I only did it for two years.

And I know I had the facade of never appearing downtrodden at all.

But I can tell you there were some challenging times there.

Drita would never show any weakness.

Brought that enthusiasm.

Brought that energy to the table every single day.

Really remarkable.

And Drita, our trips that we took together visiting I think 30 offices on my count and you were with me for a good dozen of those, dinners out with counsel employees in New Orleans and Nashville, really a remarkable experience.

So unfortunately, we can't do the rest of that.

But I did have another 13 or so offices that we were hoping to visit.

So really do appreciate all of the energy and effort that you brought to the table.

And everything that you talked about as my accomplishments with diversity and outreach and everything else, you get equal if not more credit for that.

The ideas that we would have, Drita's ability to implement on those and execute on those.

Remote trials would not have happened without Drita Tonuzi.

And me having a two minute conversation with the Chief Judge was implemented by two months of conversations that Drita had.

So a real enormous amount of energy that she brought to the table.

And then finally I have to mention the most important person in counsel who's Arlene Preston, my personal assistant.

Arlene has got more dedication for the Office of Chief Counsel than anybody I could possibly imagine.

Those of you who don't know should know that she was in the office every day.

I talked to her about setting her up for remote work when the pandemic set on and we closed all the offices and she wouldn't hear of it.

She insisted upon coming in every day, obviously taking appropriate measures for safety and distance and social distancing, but was in every day except for maybe a couple of Sundays we missed Arlene.

But literally every day since March.

And her level of dedication is unmatched in anybody I've ever worked with as an assistant or otherwise.

So Arlene, my thanks go out to you.

I don't see her on the screen here.

She's probably off trying to schedule another call or some other point in the dedication to counsel.

But Arlene has been a true partner throughout all of this.

So I have said more than I wanted to, but could go on for hours and days if I had the opportunity.

But just thank you all again for allowing me to join you on this mission, this trip for a couple of years.

I know we will have opportunities to work together again, probably sooner rather than later.

And I look forward to them in whatever capacity those might be.

So thank you all.

And Drita, thank you for organizing this this afternoon.

DRITA: Pleasure.

MIKE DESMOND: [AUDIO OUT] DRITA: So thank you, Mike.

And I would just [AUDIO OUT] Arlene is on.

She just had her video and her audio off.

And among friends and her favorite [AUDIO OUT] is and has asked [INAUDIBLE] Corbin was very upset that he couldn't be here to speak some.

And then I think Joe [AUDIO OUT] MIKE DESMOND: Thanks Drita.

DAVID: Thank you.

Thank you, Drita.

Hi Mike.

[AUDIO OUT] Here but I think you all know, we know how unreliable Ken can be.

So making sure he couldn't be here [AUDIO OUT] jumped right into in the middle of IRS and to help with all the [AUDIO OUT] but in trying to help keep the distance operating at full tilt was just amazing.

We are a family here at IRS.

And even in your short time, I don't think anybody that worked with you or anybody that met you, it'd be hard to try to convince them that you weren't a 20 year plus employee.

You brought your heart.

You brought your passion.

You immediately dove into the IRS.

You also got to see us at our finest hour.

As you could see, people on the outside don't always know about IRS.

But you got to see us at our finest and see how we rise up the challenges.

And it was with your help and support.

We could not have gotten through all the complexities and the nuances of the legislation without your leadership and your fine team in counsel.

And I know Ken would express the same thing.

It was just a personal joy for both of us to work with you.

All the interactions, all the late night calls with all the different time frames of legislation.

You have just been outstanding.

And we wish we could continue to operate with you within IRS.

And we wish you nothing but the best in the future.

We've actually enjoyed it.

And so on behalf of Ken and I and all of wage investment, we can't thank you enough for all that you've done for us.

MIKE DESMOND: And just so there may be some on the call maybe in the same position I was in before I came into counsel, wage and investment is truly the unsung hero of the IRS.

Doesn't have as much of a public facing certainly amongst task practitioners, but one of the real true testaments to my tenure and one of the things I always remember is the opportunity to work with wage and investment folks.

As Ken is a tax lawyer on the outside, I didn't have many opportunities to work with Ken and Dave, and the thousands of wage and investment employees across service centers and call centers around the country.

But really remarkable.

And get all of the credit for getting the EIP payments out.

Everybody that got an EIP payment, 150 million plus Americans that they owe true debt of gratitude to give you and Ken and the entire wage and investment team.

I really do think it was a great opportunity for me to see that.

Many tax practitioners do not have that opportunity since you don't face the practitioner community as much as other positions do.

But thank you, David.

I appreciate that.

DAVID: You're welcome.

DRITA: So Mike, before we turn to Joe, Arlene Preston has sent you a message just so you know.

Thank you so much for your kind words.

You were an absolute joy to work with.

I felt that I was truly a part of the organization when I was working with you.

May your next journey be blessed and may you be richly rewarded in whatever you do.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you Arlene.

I will not be a stranger, Arlene, so yes.

Thank you.


So Joe, I'm turning it to you.

JOE: Thanks, Drita.

And Arlene, I can't top that.

But Mike, a few words of thanks from SBSC.

Tax reform, economic crisis, pandemic, immediate pivot to 100% telework, meaningful strides in diversity and inclusion, and full virtual litigation from pro say settlements to multimillion dollar multi expert witness abusive tax transaction trials.

Any one of these would have been a generational contribution and you faced all six at once.

10 years forward, at least, in 10 months.

Mike we can honestly say this place will never be the same again.

And that's a good thing and our thanks.

And it was a real pleasure to take these journeys with you.

So on behalf of all of us in SBSC, thank you very much.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Joe.

DRITA: Thank you, Joe.

And I just would like to see if anybody else wants to speak from the chief counsel executive team?

There we go.

Holly, you're going to have to.

There you go.

Hi, Drita.

Hi, Mike.

How are you?


HOLLY: Just wanted to say thank you from PSI for all your work with us while you were at Chief Counsel.

You showed us firsthand how to build personal relationships by being engaged.

I remember we got a call by a staffer from a Congressman on a constituent issue.

We talked about the legal issue and what we could do about it, which the answer was nothing.

We could do nothing about it.

We were limited in what we could do.

So your response, you said, I'll meet with the Congressman.

And I kept thinking all the way over there, what are you going to say to this Congressman?

And when we got to meet with the Congressman who had his constituent with him, you knew exactly what to say and the constituent felt heard even though we didn't necessarily be able to take care of the problem, you knew how to build that relationship.

And it's the same way with PSI.

You consider PSI's positions so that we're heard and understood and our input is valued on our issues.

And it's always fun to work with you and the give and take on issues.

You enjoy the back and forth of the legal issues and trying to figure things out.

And building relationships happened at every level.

I remember one day I came into the office and a number of the PSI staffers had gone on an early morning run with you.

So you made the effort to get to know people by reaching out at all levels.

So you will truly be missed.

Thanks for working with PSI.

MIKE DESMOND: Thanks so much.

DRITA: Thank you, Holly.


Does anybody else wish to speak?

Here you go.

It looks like Robin.


Hi, Mike.

So I wanted to thank you.

I mean, I've followed your career ever since you left the Department of Justice since we started in the same.

And so I was really watching how you handled yourself.

And it was an amazing career even before you came to Chief Counsel.

And I was so excited when you were arriving shortly after I came on.

And what you did with the field divisions was pretty remarkable because I think they over time have maybe felt that they were a little bit the wayward cousins and forgotten, but your interests not only of going out to visit them but in making sure that there was opportunities for them to brief you on cases.

And then every time there was a briefing, you knew what they were talking about.

You showed them your interest and I can't tell you how important that is to attorneys in litigation.

And so the other thing that you did that was kind of remarkable was that the field really wanted to try to have details to the National office.

And I think that had been talked about for some time, but you actually made it happen.

And it's been quite successful.

And who would know that these details would start when we were in a pandemic?

And so it was certainly with ease and convenience.

But there's been some great opportunities, including one of our attorneys was speaking at the ABA meeting on 40 section 45Q the other day from this detail.

So I really wanted to thank you.

And I thank you for Elby and I.

MIKE DESMOND: Thanks, Robbin.

DRITA: Thank you, Robbin.

I see Mark has.

There you go Mark.

MARK: If I can.

Hi, Mike.

They said to keep it short and I will attempt to do that.

But it's been an absolute honor and a pleasure having you as Chief Counsel.

Everybody knows how strong you are from a substantive tax standpoint, but they probably have no idea how absolutely amazing you are on the non tax issues, and how much you knew about that, and how much you added to everything that we did.

Including I'm sure everybody be surprised on a simple thing you would think like a Fair Labor Standards Act case.

And Mike was fully knowledgeable on the whole area.

Shocked all of us how much you know about everything there is.

You will be greatly missed.

And we wish you a safe trip where you're going.

And I will tell you we will miss Kristen's food as well, which is also very important.

We do wish you the best.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you so much, Mark.

DRITA: Thank you, Mark.

I saw Sherry for a split second.

I don't know if Sherry wanted to chime in.

SHERRY: So Mike, speaking from one of those field personnel, I just have to say to you that it was the most refreshing thing to have a Chief Counsel who really focused on the field and on litigation, as well as all the myriad of other things that you have to focus with.

So we greatly enjoyed your visits to all the field personnel.

Made morale go sky high.

And we and everyone else wishes you the best.

And assume you're coming back to Southern California, this shouldn't be the last time we talk.

MIKE DESMOND: Well, thank you, Sherry.


Thanks so much.

DRITA: And I see Thomas.

THOMAS: Yeah, I just want to say Mike you're a good friend.

You and Kristen both.

I've really enjoyed getting to know both of you.

You're good people and I'm going to miss you both a lot.

And look forward to seeing you again soon.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Thomas.

DRITA: Thank you, Tom.

I see Anne wants to speak.

Go ahead Anne.

ANNE: Yeah.

Mike I don't know how many of our ACCI people are on the phone or on the call, but I know that everybody in ACCI is really upset to see you go.

Enjoyed working with you so much.

You've done so much for us.

You've listened to our venting every weeks and come up with great suggestions and a lot of help.

And so we will really miss you.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, Anne.

Tell the whole group at ACCI I said hello.

But I'm still we'll be talking more at some point.

Give it a year or two.


Sounds good.

CHUCK REDDICK: Hey, Drita, can you find somebody to talk about the socks and some of the other attributes?

MIKE DESMOND: I think we're about 20 minutes over here, aren't we Drita?

DRITA: All right on that note.

So it looks like everybody has not only written their peace but said their peace.

And again, I like to say it's not goodbye it's a bientot, which means see you later.

Maybe in some other capacity.

MIKE DESMOND: Thanks so much everyone.

Yes, we'll be in touch real soon.

DRITA: Yes and thank you Mr. And Mrs. Desmond for joining us and for giving us such a wonderful Chief Counsel.

MIKE DESMOND: Maybe they want to say a couple of words?

DRITA: Sure.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Wait a minute, where did that come from?

MIKE DESMOND: I don't know.

That's probably my dad singing.


DRITA: Mr. Desmond, would you like to unmute and say a few words?

Or Mrs. Desmond.

MIKE DESMOND: Nice hat by the way dad.

DRITA: You have to unmute though.

There you go.

MR. DESMOND: Wearing my special hat and special shirt.

Well, I have to say that I've always loved taxes.

DRITA: Paying them?

MIKE DESMOND: My dad does prepare his own tax return every year in pencil, yes.


And Mr. Desmond as your lawyer, I should probably cut this off right now.

DRITA: Yes really.

Wait a minute, you're on the wrong side.

MIKE DESMOND: Oh, I'm on a leave of absence for the next three minutes.

MR. DESMOND: To see our son first of all in a career that involve taxes is very great to see.

And then his experience here at the counsel's office is just really amazing.

And you mentioned the survey, the employees feeling that the counsel office is a good place to work.

And I have to say that my impression of that started the day of the swearing in.

And I walked away from that ceremony just telling everybody I knew, this is an amazing place to work.

And ever since the two years since then, it really, really solidified that impression.

And today of course, adds to it.

So we feel very lucky that our son has done the job he has and in the atmosphere with all these people that we've seen today.

We appreciate all of that as well as the work that he's done.

And we're very proud of him.

And proud of the organization.

So thank you all very much.

MIKE DESMOND: Thank you, dad.

DRITA: Thank you, Mr. Desmond.

And I see before we turn to Kristen, she'll have the last word if she wants it.

If she wants it.

I see Ken Corbin showed up.



It's a wonderful day at Chick-fil-A, may I take your order?

MIKE DESMOND: Somebody said you were out fighting a dumpster fire, but thank you.

KEN CORBIN: I was, I was.

There's always something burning here or something there.

But I couldn't miss this opportunity.

Mike, I've already told you how much I've just loved working with you.

You've given me a brand new appreciation for what the Chief Counsel's office can be.

Crave this huge, huge expectation, and so now the rest of the agency has to live up to it for life that's just how this is going to have to work.

But for me and for David, I just wanted to say thank you.

I walk away with a wonderful friendship.

And I walk away with walk with knowing someone who has a true servant's heart.

I mean, I watched you with passion and conviction argue on behalf of not really the IRS, but on half of Americans and what is right for our country.

And just having that balance, that sense of calm demeanor, that energy.

It was just incredible.

So I just could not let the day go, no matter fire hung up on Lenny.

The Commissioner is not on right?

I hung up on some other folks because I said I had to jump to this.

I definitely wanted to say until next time because this is not goodbye.

MIKE DESMOND: The feelings are all mutual.

You've been a great partner to work with.

DRITA: So Mike, I think Ken has the distinction of being the first chief taxpayer experience officer.

MIKE DESMOND: That's true.

DRITA: So he's got to be calling you.


Now I'm a client I guess, Ken.

Thank you, Ken.

That's very kind words from you.

I appreciate that.

Really great opportunity to work with you for a couple of years.


So I'm guessing that Kristen is taking a pass?

KRISTEN: No, I can do it.

MIKE DESMOND: Oh, she's here.

Uh oh.

CHUCK REDDICK: We don't let her take a pass.

You're on mute.

KRISTEN: Same room.

We're in the same room.

So I'm going to take over.

No, Michael has always said that his public service jobs have been the best.

And that this Chief Counsel role was the best of the best.

And I just want you all to know that he enjoyed every minute of it.

And he would constantly tell me how much he admired your intellect and your dedication and your commitment.

And it really was genuine and he really was pretty much fired up the whole time.

So I'm just so grateful to all of you for giving him this opportunity and this experience.

And it's definitely one for the books.

So that's it.

DRITA: Thank you, Kristen.

Thank you.

Thank you.

MIKE DESMOND: All right.

Well, again, thanks everyone.

Drita, thank you for putting this all together.

I know we kind of left very hurriedly there, so it's really a great opportunity to reconnect with folks.

And as I said, we will have a chance to all talk and work again together at some point in some capacity.

And I look forward to that.

DRITA: And we're just going to leave you with one word.


MIKE DESMOND: Thank you.

CHUCK REDDICK: And what's for dinner?


Have a great afternoon.

SPEAKER 1: Bye, safe travels.

SPEAKER 2: Go long Mike.

[MUSIC PLAYING] (SINGING) For he's a jolly good fellow which nobody can deny.

Which nobody can deny.

Which nobody can deny.

For he's a jolly good fellow.

For he's a jolly good fellow.

For he's a jolly good fellow.

Which nobody can deny.