IRS pours $88 million into training

The Internal Revenue Service will bring teachers to employees instead of

sending workers to school as part of a massive effort to retool the IRS

workforce.

The tax agency awarded Arthur D. Little a five-year, $88 million contract

to provide distance-learning services, the technology firm announced Thursday.

It is the largest electronic learning contract ever awarded by a civilian

government agency.

The Cambridge, Mass., company will design and implement customized services

for the tax collection agency beginning next year. It will include online,

classroom and interactive video in areas such as customer service, taxation,

communication and information technology.

"The need to attract, train and retain talented employees is critical to

efforts by the IRS to update its technology...and reorganize around a customer-based

business model," said Ronald Sanders, the IRS human resources officer.

The contract is part of the 10-year IRS modernization program to streamline

the agency and provide more customized services for taxpayers.

The focus on training follows months of speculation about the future of

the government's workforce, because thousands of federal workers are expected

to retire in the next five years, leaving behind a government that will

have an even greater shortage of experienced technology workers than it

does today.

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