IRS to pare down modernization projects

The IRS will decide by the end of December what business modernization projects to set aside so it can complete its new taxpayer database and other selected projects, the IRS CIO said yesterday.

The agency will at the same time come up with a new target date during 2004 for the first release of the Customer Account Data Engine, the taxpayer database that will replace the tape-based Master File, IRS CIO Todd Grams said.

“We’ve tried to do too much over too short a time in the past. I believe everything we’ve taken on has exceeded CSC’s capacity to deliver, as well as our capacity to manage,” Grams said in a telephone interview.

Reducing the number of IRS Business Systems Modernization projects was one recommendation by the IRS Oversight Board in an analysis released yesterday (Click for GCN story).

The IRS generally agreed with the board’s recommendations, Grams said. Much of the report was based on the findings of four studies IRS undertook in the fall to find what was driving the delays and cost overruns. IRS involved the board as the studies were analyzed. “There’s a lot of consistency between the steps they’re saying we should take and steps we have under way,” Grams said.

IRS came up with 46 action items for itself and Prime contractor Computer Sciences Corp. to execute within 30 days, 90 days and over the long term, he said. “There is nothing between now and the end of the month that the IRS is measuring that determines the fate of CSC on the project,” Grams said. “We will be tracking CSC’s progress to see how they do, and that will determine our measure of success of their performance.”

CSC has completed what was expected of it in the first 30 days. One of those items was establishing a tiger team to identify and elevate issues “so that we get to a level where they can be resolved much more quickly than they have been,” said Fred Forman, IRS associate commissioner for Business Systems Modernization.

To bring more management involvement to modernization, the deputy commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division has been detailed to the CIO office to help implement the action plan. And the deputy commissioner for wage and investment is now leading the CADE project, Grams said.

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