IRS buys software to track complaints

The Internal Revenue Service is turning to an off-the-shelf product to track

complaints from customers and employees.

Complaints on topics ranging from slow service to workforce disputes are

filed in three separate databases, and until now, the agency had no way

to cull the information to detect a systemic problem.

The IRS aims to correct that shortcoming with a new intelligent search software

package — RetrievalWare from Excalibur Technologies Corp. — at a cost of

about $500,000.

"We are not changing the underlying system," said Steve Whitlock, director

of the IRS Commissioner's Complaint Processing and Analysis Group. "This

is an analytic tool that looks at the three systems and tracks the complaints."

Complaints are fed into three databases, depending on the nature of the

grievance. General correspondence go one way, complaints about race and

gender bias land in another place, and employee grievances are fed into

a third system.

With the new software, which will be fully integrated by next June, the

IRS will be able to extract data from the three systems, and search and

analyze the consolidated data.

RetrievalWare is already used by several government agencies. At the State

Department, it is being used to provide arms control officers with treaty

compliance and inspection data.

The Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency is using RetrievalWare

for its nationwide intranet portal for agriculture reference manuals. The

software enables FSA employees to scan, index and categorize handbooks in

a desired format.

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