IRS cuts tech jobs

Internal Revenue Service executives this week initiated a reduction in force action that targets information technology employees.

Agency employees received a memo about the job cuts on June 2. About 1,500 people work in the the two groups affected, End User Equipment and Services and Enterprise Operations Services, both within the tax agency's Modernization and Information Technology Services organization.

In one area, the IRS' computing centers group, moving administrative workers into technical support could "free up maybe around 150 jobs" and save $10 million, W. Todd Grams, IRS chief information officer, told Federal Computer Week. IRS operates three large computing centers in Detroit, Martinsburg, W.Va., and Memphis, where executives hope to reorganize staff positions and redirect some savings into other parts of the CIO organization.

In addition to the computer center employees, a second group of affected employees are in help-desk, desktop and telecommunications support positions.

The overall number of employees that might lose their jobs will not be known for several months, but the IT staff reductions are necessary to improve internal technical support without asking Congress for more money, Grams said.

IRS executives on June 2 officially notified union leaders of the reduction in force activity. Between now and September 2005, when IRS officials expect to complete the move, affected employees will be offered early retirements, buyouts and job reassignments to mitigate the effects of the action, Grams said.

The head of the union representing IRS employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, was unhappy about the job cuts. "We are very, very disappointed and angry about the IRS' actions," said Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

NTEU had opposed the announcement because union leaders did not have an opportunity to exhaust all alternatives, she said.

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