IRS moves on 45-point IT plan

IRS operations announcement

The Internal Revenue Service has started to implement a 45-point "action plan" to improve its management of information technology, specifically the Business Systems Modernization, resulting from multiple external studies performed last year.

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson ordered the reports from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, META Group Inc. and others partly because many projects under the modernization program are far behind schedule and well over budget. The initiative under the most scrutiny is the Customer Account Data Engine (CADE), which stores all taxpayer information gathered by the agency.

Todd Grams, the IRS' CIO, told Federal Computer Week that three areas to be addressed by the agency and modernization contractor Computer Sciences Corp. include: reducing the number of projects in the modernization portfolio; getting business units more involved in specific initiatives; and generating a "noticeable improvement" in contractor performance.

Each action item has a specific series of plans and milestones. IRS officials will keep a close eye on them, particularly when one impacts another, Grams said.

In addition, the engineering institute's review of CADE will be done regularly. "It's simply too big not to do a regular checkup," he said.

Agency officials may bring in a third-party consultant to see why pieces of the modernization are working and other parts aren't, and determine how to carry out improvements, he said.

Everson today also announced a series of agencywide steps to improve operations and add more enforcement positions in 2005. Changes include consolidating back-office processing in multiple locations nationwide, shutting down the Memphis processing facility because of an increase in e-file returns and reducing the cost of internal support functions, particularly through technology gains in human resources.

"By tightening operations, we can devote more people to frontline positions and strengthen tax enforcement activities," Everson said in a statement. "At the same time, service to taxpayers will not be reduced."

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