IRS building master file

The Internal Revenue Service's modernization program is on track, with plans

to phase in a master database that will enable the IRS to keep track of

every contact the agency makes with taxpayers.

At a briefing on the status of the 10-year plan Tuesday, IRS officials said

their blueprint for modernization is "holding together" as the tax agency

undertakes the biggest information technology overhaul in government history.

"This program is one of the most significant public/private partnerships

going on," said Paul Cosgrave, the IRS chief information officer.

Working with its prime partner, Computer Sciences Corp., the IRS has developed

a plan to phase in a master system that will replace a tape-based program

created in the 1960s. That program is so antiquated that one IRS clerk wouldn't

know if another clerk talked to a taxpayer, even if the contact happened

on the same day.

The IRS will start by putting at least 6 million tax returns into the database

by 2003. Taxpayers who filed electronically in 1999 will be first, and the

agency plans to phase other taxpayers into the system every year.

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