TIGTA: IRS improves IT governance

The Internal Revenue Service is doing a better job of overseeing its information technology investments but needs to give its executive steering committees more detailed information, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a report released today.

The IRS has made significant progress in directing, developing, and implementing tools and processes that support tiered program management, TIGTA said in the report. For example, the agency developed standardized reporting templates with documented processes and procedures for the executive steering committees and created a master list of IT projects to track and assign oversight.

IRS agencies are in the process of establishing their own program management offices that will apply new tiered-program management processes and procedures, the report states, adding that the program management offices also will oversee assigned IT projects.

As part of the tiered-program management structure, the IRS is requiring monthly assessments of all IT projects, said Michael Phillips, deputy IG for audit.

“The IRS has been successful at improving program management and oversight activity awareness and communication throughout the organization,” he said in the report, citing IRS organizations’ participation in the newly formed Governance Working Group. The group gives IRS components a forum in which they can share their experiences with tiered-program management structures and processes, he said.

The report states that the IRS has not yet fully documented policies and procedures for developing a complete portfolio of IT projects. In addition, it needs to finish setting up the program management offices for all IRS organizations. And, in conjunction with its executive steering committees, the agency needs to provide consistent and continual monitoring and oversight of major IT projects, the report states.

TIGTA conducted the audit to determine whether the IRS had established and is following adequate internal controls to manage IT investment projects based on the IRS modernization effort’s new enterprise governance model.

The IRS is following TIGTA’s recommendations, said Arthur Gonzalez, the agency’s chief information officer, in a response to the auditor.

“Collaboration between the IT organization and the business units has enabled the IRS to successfully implement its enterprise governance mode to facilitate decision-making for the portfolio,” he said. The IRS monitors 60 percent of its IT portfolio with reported assessments and continues to implement the process across the agency.

IRS officials plan to complete the following actions in 2009:

  • Incorporate projects and operational applications into the IRS portfolio and develop and communicate formal policies and procedures to continually update the portfolio and a standard set of IT terms.

  • Obtain approval of the governance directive and communicate guidance to foster enterprise-wide adherence to the governance process.

  • Conduct an enterprisewide campaign of education and sustained support for the control organizations to ensure consistency of the health assessment process.

  • Ensure that all assigned major IT projects are reviewed monthly and are presented to the governance board’s attention when they exceed established thresholds.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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