Steering a course to a less taxing government
- By Judi Hasson
- Jun 26, 2000
Early in the morning, Midori Morgan-Gaide is not thinking about computer
systems. Her mind is on Harry Potter, the hero who wants to be a wizard
in a series of best-selling children's books.
Later, she'll work her own wizardry with the Simplified Tax and Wage
Reporting System (STAWRS), the digital plan that promises to make life easier
for businesses by allowing them to file wage and tax reports electronically.
But during her 90-minute drive to Washington, D.C., from rural Culpeper
County, Va., she is more interested in talking to her 11-year-old son about
the world of Harry Potter. Commuting together, her family can share breakfast
and conversation before she drops her son off at school and her husband
at the Treasury Department.
Morgan-Gaide has been a government worker for nearly 30 years, mostly
for the Internal Revenue Service. And for the past four years, she has been
in charge of a cutting-edge program that promises to revolutionize the
way businesses deal with the government and save them billions of dollars
"I think that STAWRS is one of those things that just makes sense,"
she said. "It's a win-win situation. How can you not do it?"
STAWRS is a partnership among federal agencies and has been on the drawing
board for the past four years. Last month, the IRS selected states and commercial
partners to develop software — a major step for turning an idea into reality.
"One of the big reasons I accepted the project was because I always
wanted to do something that really stirs you inside," she said. "When this
project first started, it wasn't going very well. It needed some identification
of products and what we were going to deliver."
Morgan-Gaide has been on the road selling STAWRS to states and businesses.
Her mandate is to make the program work by drawing together Treasury, the
IRS, the Labor Department, the Social Security Administration and the Small
Business Administration to simplify relations between the government and
the private sector.
"Midori has brought real passion and persistence to the STAWRS program,"
said Bob Barr, IRS' assistant commissioner of electronic tax administration.
"She is a real champion for employers and the burdens they bear in comlying
with the complexities of paying taxes at the federal, state and local levels."
Never one to sit still, Morgan-Gaide can open up and fix her own computer
and even install the boards.
"I don't know if I'd call myself a geek, but I'm a person who likes
to tear things apart and put them together," she said.
And that is exactly what she is doing in her ground-floor office not
far from Union Station.
The government has become service-oriented, stream-lined and interested
in keeping its customers happy, she said. "A lot of taxpayers aren't comfortable
interacting with government because of privacy issues," she said. "Automation
isn't the answer to everything. It has to be something taxpayers are going
to be comfortable with."