News in Brief

GAO dings IRS, Secret Service techs-up for pope and more

tax form and keyboard

GAO: IRS system for tax delinquents needs better definition

The Government Accountability Office once again criticized the IRS' lack of clear IT priorities and procedures in a September report on the agency's Automated Collection System.

ACS prioritizes and selects cases of unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns based on the IRS' collection program priorities, but then ACS managers make manual decisions about how many notification and enforcement actions to take, how many and which cases an IRS staffer should be assigned and how a collection representative's time should be spent to ensure a certain level of service.

According to the GAO report, there is not enough documentation on the selection method, and objectives aren't clearly defined.

GAO auditors noted that the IRS collected nearly $6.2 billion in fiscal 2014, but without definitions of "fairness" or clearly stated objectives for ACS, it's nearly impossible to truly assess the system's effectiveness or defend it against allegations of unfairness.

The IRS agreed with GAO's recommendations to establish objectives and regular evaluations for ACS.

GAO reports have long noted that the IRS needs better management and measuring sticks when it comes to IT projects.

Secret Service unveils new website

Ahead of two big events on the East Coast in the coming weeks, the Secret Service launched a new website and a free mobile app.

"The new app and website will allow us to communicate more directly and transparently with the public," Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said in a Sept. 10 statement. "This comes just in time for the upcoming visit by Pope Francis and the United [Nations] General Assembly, when we will be providing timely information to the public, especially for residents and visitors in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C."

Officials said they collaborated with NIC Federal on the app, which provides easy access to public safety alerts, announcements, recruitment and employment resources, and field office contact information.

DHS app tracks the lost

For $10, local emergency search and rescue teams can download a new app that helps them find lost hikers, hunters, children and others who might have gone astray and could be in danger.

The app provides step-by-step instructions on search plans, guidance, protocols and strategies for on-scene search and rescue teams conducting missing-person searches. The First Responders Group in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate developed the app, which is available on Apple iTunes, Google Play and

It harnesses data from more than 150,000 missing-person cases across the country and offers tactical briefings, investigative questions and statistics for more than 40 scenarios. It also provides guidance for snow- and water-related incidents.

FCC wraps up delayed cloud move

It took a few extra days, but the Federal Communications Commission's move to a commercial cloud is essentially complete as of Sept. 10.

"Headquarters is back online, with full restoration of email and network services to all staff in progress today," an FCC spokesperson told FCW. "All our external systems are up and running."

The agency had planned to be finished with the move by Sept. 8, but trouble with cables at the new data center delayed the overhaul, leaving some systems down and employees telecommuting because FCC headquarters was without Internet access.

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