Spires to focus on IRS modernization

Named the Internal Revenue Service’s new chief information officer Sept. 17, Richard Spires came to the agency in early 2004 to drive information technology modernization in an agency largely void of it. He said he does not think that task will change in his new role.

His duty as an associate CIO was to update the IRS and its outdated IT systems, such as e-File and the Customer Account Data Engine. He also was responsible for continuing the Business Systems Modernization program.

Spires does not think his focus has changed. “I think it’s just broadened,” he said.

He said the IRS must concentrate on the management and discipline of its major IT projects, specifically BSM. He wants to improve how the agency operates by bringing in industry best practices. The IRS needs to make its services more efficient, Spires said.

The IRS also has a dated infrastructure, he said, and historically, the agency has not invested in its upkeep. Spires said he plans to spend the money to upgrade even the most basic pieces of the infrastructure, such as servers and software.

He also faces a risk not centered on IT: an aging workforce. Many of the IRS’ employees are close to retirement age. Without attracting younger workers, knowledge of the IRS' systems vanishes.

As CIO, Spires intends to get the IRS on the course to modernization. “We need to aggressively address that,” he said.

He said, however, the IRS won’t finish modernizing during his tenure. “I don’t think you’re ever done with IT modernization these days,” he added.

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