IRS loses track of computers

The Internal Revenue Service can't account for computers that it lent to volunteers who help the elderly and others prepare their tax returns, according to an Aug. 13 report from the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.

Under its volunteer programs, the IRS lends about 6,600 desktop and laptop computers with tax preparation software to volunteers at 18,000 sites nationwide. However, the IG did not specify how many machines might be unaccounted for.

The IG audit also found that the IRS did not ensure that taxpayer e-file data was removed from volunteer computers at the end of the 2001 filing season.

IRS officials said they would improve computer management.

Justice puts limits on TIPS

The telephone installer won't be using the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS) hot line to report what he sees in your house after all. And the mailman won't send e-mail messages about you to the FBI.

Operation TIPS will go on, but without help from tens of thousands of workers whose jobs give them access to homes and private property, the Justice Department has decided.

The department's Bureau of Justice Assistance plans to give $800,000 to the National White Collar Crime Center to set up a Web-based system and a telephone hot line that workers in certain industries can use to report activity or incidents that might be related to terrorism.

The center, a nonprofit organization, plans to establish a system that automatically forwards information from callers and e-mailers to law enforcement agencies, Justice officials said. Data will not be stored in a central government database, Attorney General John Ashcroft has said.


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