IG: IRS needs better tracking for E-Help Desk

E-Help Desk program audit report

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The Internal Revenue Service should improve its expanding e-services, especially its E-Help Desk program, as taxpayers go to the Internet for tax services more frequently, according to a new inspector general audit report.

The E-Help Desk program assists people using the IRS’ e-services, but it lacks various processes for evaluations and a means to measure customer satisfaction. More employees need to be trained on the program also, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s audit, released Jan. 30.

“Ensuring the program provides quality customer service is essential because the number of taxpayers who are electronically filing their tax returns is increasing, and the IRS is continuing to offer more e-services,” the report states.

The IG found inaccurate and out-of-date management information on electronic customer cases in the program. The IRS did not review call monitoring and e-cases for quality assurance. In a random sampling of 97 e-cases, the IG found four in which customers received solutions that did not address their questions. For seven e-cases, employees helping customers did not adequately document the e-cases, leaving the IG unable to determine whether customers received the correct answers, according to the audit.

The program had no processes for ensuring employees had completed required training, either. A random sample of 19 employees determined that none had completed all the required training for fiscal 2006, the IG found.

IRS officials agreed with the IG’s recommendations, the audit states.

In response, the agency is already considering a customer satisfaction survey and is starting to install quality assurance processes. The E-Help Desk program began in November 2006 to record customer contacts for reviews and performance feedback, according to the IRS’ response letter.

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