IRS, Customs targeted at Treasury

The Treasury Department has to work harder on information technology policies at some of its key agencies, according to a General Accounting Office report released Jan. 17.

Although GAO's Performance and Accountability Series report generally gave Treasury high marks, it said officials still must strengthen technology in parts of the department.

The report focused some of its attention on the Internal Revenue Service's modernization plan. However, the tax agency has just released its own blueprint for modernization and is on its way to fixing many of the issues that the GAO report criticized.

The report echoes the blueprint in pointing out that billions of dollars are at risk because the IRS lacks management controls to determine just how much it costs to collect each dollar from delinquent taxpayers.

"IRS continues to have serious weaknesses with general controls designed to protect computing resources, such as networks, computer equipment, software programs, data and facilities, from unauthorized use, modification, loss and disclosure," according to the report.

Among other recommendations:

The U.S. Customs Service must do a better job of regulating trade to ensure that illegal goods don't enter the United States. The Customs modernization program, which just received its first infusion of money from Congress, is expected to make it harder for illegal goods to get through U.S. borders. Treasury must improve management at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to reduce firearms-related crimes. Treasury must improve the management of its asset forfeiture program.

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