Senior Obama administration officials where notified almost a year ago that an inspector general was looking into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups, a watchdog said on Friday.

Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general (IG) for tax administration, testified that he told the department’s general counsel and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin about the probe in June of 2012 — months after media reports started detailing Tea Party complaints about the IRS.

George stressed that he told the officials merely that a probe was underway. After the hearing, aides at the inspector general’s office later said it’s standard practice for them to give a head’s up about their work.