IRS tries agile acquisition for data tools

The first in a series of expected technology pilots at the agency will focus on robotic process and intelligent automation tools for contract data.

Shutterstock photo ID: photo ID: 245503636 By Mark Van Scyoc Sign outside the Internal Revenue Service building in downtown Washington, DC on December 26, 2014.
 

No one has ever accused the IRS, which still regularly uses software and systems that are more than 60 years old, of operating on the cutting edge of technology. But the tax agency is hoping a new pilot program to acquire new technology will help change that perception.

A draft solicitation released August 2 seeks proposals for a Treasury-wide Data Governance and Analytics Initiative that will make use of a new procurement vehicle rolled out last year, dubbed Pilot IRS, to develop new ways to automate and refine departmental contract data.

That's not all Pilot IRS is designed to do. It will serve as an overarching framework for multiple technology pilots down the road as officials essentially attempt to create a sandbox for innovation inside the agency that is unmoored from the traditionally sluggish and bureaucratic federal procurement process. The program will manage and release a series of multi-phase "solution challenges" to the public, each focusing on a different technology or area the agency wants to further explore.

Each challenge is worth up to $7 million, with the results from early phases helping officials determine whether to continue funding future ones.

"For those who are familiar with traditional government procurements, Pilot IRS will appear substantively different from how the government normally buys technology," the agency wrote in its draft solicitation. "To be fair, it is."

The broader Pilot IRS program lays out three goals: promote technological innovation to solve pressing challenges at the agency, communicate those challenges to the broader tech community and cut down on the bureaucratic red tape that makes pursuing innovation difficult to impossible in the government space.

On that last front, the program is set up to get around federal procurement rules that prohibit agencies from identifying particular technologies or firms for funding based on "a previous, separate contractual arrangement, regardless of how successful it may have been." That means that agencies can sometimes struggle to follow up promising pilot projects into more sustainable, long-term procurements.

"By identifying streamlined submission/evaluation procedures and a structured progression from concept to prototype, testing, and limited deployment through the use of phases, Pilot IRS seeks to avoid many of these issues," the draft solicitation states.

Perhaps the most unusual feature of the program: IRS officials don't appear to care very much what technology, system or process a company uses so long as they help to achieve the larger objectives laid out for each project.

For example, the first challenge, focused on robotic process and intelligent automation tools, seeks industry help to overhaul the agency's still largely manual process for entering and correcting financial and non-financial contract data. Officials want to improve IRS data within the Federal Procurement Data System, limit manual work cleaning up that data and achieve "incremental improvement" very quickly. Before the close of fiscal year 2019 according to an "aspirational goal" stated in contracting documents.

How to get there is left entirely up to the imagination of respondents.

"There are no specific solutions or approaches that are being requested; rather, any approach which is focused on the three goals of the solicitation will be considered," the document states.

The August 2 draft bid is for "phase 1" services, which consists of a proof of concept demonstration and supporting documentation on cost, manhour savings and return on investment. If the project is continued, phases two through four will deal with prototypes, testing and deployment.

Any solution or technology needs that come out of the pilot program will go through the normal open bidding process, according to contacting documents.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.