In its Saturday edition, the Washington Post featured two separate front-page stories about the controversy engulfing the Internal Revenue Service for its targeting of Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status. Both stories featured completely different figures for the number of auditors the IRS has to cover nonprofit groups.

One article says the number is between 140 to 200. Another story says the number is 900. Both of these figures even appear on the same page of the print edition, A6. They both cannot be right. So which is it?

One story, “House panel launches inquiries into IRS targeting of conservative groups,” by Ed O’Keefe quotes Steven Miller, the agency’s former acting commissioner, as telling the House Ways and Mean Committee on Friday that part of the problem is they have so few auditors:

Part of the issue, he said, was staffing. He said the IRS has “a limited number of people” — 140 to 200 — who work on applications for tax-exempt status of all types. “We do not have enough people right now,” he said.

A different story by Lisa Rein and Dan Zak, “At Cincinnati IRS office, surprise over claims of partisan villainy” certainly seems to contradict that:

Nationwide, about 900 of the IRS’s nearly 100,000 employees deal with tax-exempt organizations. Cincinnati’s determinations unit handled about 61,000 applications last year.

Rein and Zak do not cite a specific source for the figure however their piece has them interviewing people at the IRS’s Cincinnati office, where most of this work is done. So presumably they were told this by people who work there.

Is there some distinction between “deal(ing) with tax-exempt organizations” and “work(ing) on applications”? That is one explanation.

Or maybe one of the figures is just wrong. So what is the correct number?