IRS awards online training pact

The Internal Revenue Service has awarded a contract to Plateau Systems Ltd. that will deliver a new e-learning initiative, including helping to train 100,000 IRS workers online about the ever-changing tax code.

The initiative will put as much as 50 percent of the agency's learning material online by 2006.

The IRS will be using Plateau 4 Learning Management System (LMS) as the core platform to manage and deliver the initiative. After the program is fully implemented, Plateau 4 will manage and track all classroom and job training for the 100,000 employees.

"This is a single, scalable infrastructure whether it's a classroom on e-learning or blended learning," said Paul Sparta, chief executive officer of the Arlington, Va.-based company.

The company will provide the LMS, but the IRS will be responsible for content development.

The IRS will use the multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract (no specific amount was disclosed) to save money in training and facility costs. It also will give the IRS the chance to assess the skills of its employees and customize instruction to fit their needs.

Among its features: It will automatically provide e-mail alerts to employees whose jobs require knowing about tax code changes and who might require retraining. In the past, the IRS used spreadsheets to train its workers about new features in the tax code, which had led to criticism that IRS agents were not up-to-date about the latest tax code changes.

Sparta said this will give IRS employees who work at the agency's call centers a better record of answering taxpayers' questions accurately.

Plateau, which was founded in 1996, has a variety of government contracts providing LMS, including the Air Force's Air Education and Training Command. It also provides LMS to the American Red Cross and its chapters across the country.

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