Is the IRS thinking about a switch to off-the-shelf CRM?

Shutterstock image (by Jozsef Bagota): Blue cloud speech bubbles

WHAT: A market research notice from the IRS about software-as-a-service capabilities.

WHY: The IRS is in deep water when it comes to customer service. Callers typically wait a half hour or more to speak with a staffer at the tax agency's contact centers during tax season. Many give up in frustration.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen blames funding cuts. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee blame poor management and misplaced spending priorities. Whatever the cause, the rift on IRS funding between the White House and Congress seems almost unbridgeable.

To go by a recent sources sought notice published on Fed Biz Opps, the IRS might be looking to a commercial customer relationship management tool as a way to lower the cost of taxpayer contact, while improving efficiency and performance. The agency wants to be briefed by vendors on services that offer workforce management, contact recording and contact analytics in the cloud. The solicitation asks specifically for vendor offerings in customer contact, including phone, email and live chat, and how the IRS will be able to use information on contacts to generate performance reports.

Per the notice, the demos sought are for the IRS Contact Center in New Carrolton, Md.

Taxpayer data is some of the most closely guarded in the government. The IRS won't be able to simply contract with Salesforce or Oracle on a plug-and-play basis. The security requirements to put IRS data in the cloud, and manage taxpayer contacts would be considerable.

But this notice is worth watching if it is indeed a step toward modernizing and streamlining IRS-taxpayer relationships, especially in light of recent revelations that the "Get Transcript" program that offered access to prior year tax information was a popular target of hackers, who found easy workarounds to the system's authentication protocols. About 330,000 accounts were breached, and attempts were made to hack into an additional 280,000 going back to November 2014.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:28 AM


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