IRS board counters Bush budget

Progress Report of IRS Business Systems Modernization Program

The Bush administration's proposed budget for the Internal Revenue Service is woefully inadequate in light of the difficult task of modernizing IRS' antiquated systems, the IRS Oversight Board reported Thursday.

The board has recommended an IRS budget that is 8.9 percent higher than the administration's request. In a 24-page analysis of the Bush administration's fiscal 2002 request, the board warned that the administration's budget "does not adequately support the IRS strategic plan and provides inadequate support for technology modernization."

"It is well-known that the IRS is broken. It is not meeting any of the goals and objectives demanded by Congress and the American taxpayers," IRS Oversight Board chairman Larry Levitan said. "The agency's computer systems are completely outdated, while the number of IRS employees continues to drop while the workload increases."

The report details the difference between the board's budget recommendation and the administration's budget.

The Bush administration's budget proposes $397 million for the IRS Information Technology Investment Account. The board, however, says the IRS needs $1 billion over two years — $450 million in fiscal 2002 and $550 million in fiscal 2003.

"The impact of this reduction will be to slow down a critical program that is already taking too long," the board said in a statement.

The board also has recommended $54 million to start replacing out-of-date laptop and desktop computers that will not support new software. New machines will be needed to improve security and make IRS employees more effective. The president's budget does not fund this program.

"It makes no sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop necessary new software and then not provide the hardware to operate the software," the board said.

The board also recommended fully funding Staffing Tax Administration for Balance and Equity (STABLE) program, which will let the IRS hire about 3,800 new people and end a decade-long 17 percent staff reduction.

Created under 1998 IRS reform legislation, the IRS Oversight Board was designed to act as a corporate board of directors for the IRS and to assist Congress with oversight responsibilities. This is the first year the board has voiced its opinion on the IRS budget.

Dorobek is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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