CSC focused on IRS modernization

Despite recent troubles, the best of the Internal Revenue Service's massive modernization effort is yet to come, the chief operating officer of the IRS modernization's lead contractor said today.

Every major program has bumps, Michael Laphen, Computer Sciences Corp.'s president and chief operating officer, said during a meeting with reporters. "It's really a question of how you handle the bumps."

CSC, he said, has a reputation for working through these issues with its clients, as it is doing with IRS.

IRS officials have commissioned a series of studies to determine what has gone wrong with the multibillion-dollar modernization program as part of an effort to determine how to get the long-troubled program back on track.

"If I was in [IRS Commissioner Mark Everson's] shoes, I probably would have done the same thing," Laphen said.

IRS officials have received a verbal report on those studies and are expecting the written report soon.

"I think it is fair to say that they were all constructive inputs," he said. "I think it is also fair to say that it was unanimous that the programs should continue. There are some things we can do differently and should do differently. We are currently working with the IRS to make those changes to our approach."

Laphen refused to specify the changes or findings because Everson is going to detail those when the written report is completed.

CSC and the IRS have already made some changes, he noted.

"We are going to work harder on getting more content-related people involved with the program," he said, meaning people who understand the functionality of the existing systems and how a streamlined process would work. "One of the challenges both IRS and we have is getting people who really understand some of the nuts and bolts of the IRS legacy systems," he said.

"What we want to look at with business process transformation is, 'What are the better ways of doing these processes?'"

Laphen noted that the IRS modernization is an enormous undertaking — one of the largest such initiatives of its kind anywhere in the world, either in the public or private sector. Furthermore one of the biggest challenges is that the IRS and CSC have to maintain the antiquated legacy systems while implementing modernized systems.

IRS officials expect the results of the four studies by the end of the month and plan to announce a new strategy by the end of December.

Despite some successes, the agency's Business Systems Modernization program, in its fifth year, has been plagued by missed deadlines and cost overruns. IRS officials plan to spend more than $429 million on the program in fiscal 2004.

CSC is the lead contractor on what was expected to be a 15-year program.

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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