U.S. GAO – Data Know-how: IRS Desires to Deal with Operational Worries and Possibilities to Improve Administration

Tina W. Doyle

What GAO Uncovered

Information technology (IT) operational troubles have hampered the Inner Profits Service’s (IRS) potential to effectively have out its duties. For illustration:

In May perhaps 2020, GAO claimed that new and continuing deficiencies in information and facts process security controls more than monetary and tax processing methods included deficiencies related to entry controls, segregation of responsibilities, and other areas. These collectively represented a major deficiency in risks of unauthorized entry to, modification of, or disclosure of economic reporting and taxpayer facts and disruption of important operations. GAO created 18 new recommendations to address these deficiencies, bringing the whole range of GAO cybersecurity recommendations that IRS has not nonetheless implemented to 132.

A January 2020 GAO report stated that consumer service representatives and frontline administrators described frequently going through laptop challenges that adversely affected their ability to serve taxpayers. Exclusively, they reported their computers freezing or having too much time to reboot. These computer troubles could induce cellphone phone calls to disconnect before taxpayer troubles were being fixed, which required taxpayers to call back and hold out in the queue once more. GAO suggested that IRS handle this problem IRS now has steps underway to implement GAO’s advice.

GAO has also issued a number of reviews pinpointing a lot of alternatives for the IRS to increase the management of its IT investments. IRS has tackled some of the associated recommendations but other important kinds are not but implemented. For case in point:

In June 2018, GAO reported that IRS experienced not fully implemented important chance administration procedures for 3 mission significant units experiencing important threats owing to their reliance on legacy programming languages, out-of-date components, and a scarcity of human resources with required competencies. For illustration, for a single of the devices, the more than 50-year old Person Learn File, IRS was working with assembly language and Laptop or computer Business enterprise Oriented Language (COBOL)—languages that were being both equally made in the 1950s. As a result of these and other conclusions in its report, GAO created 21 recommendations to IRS. As of September 2020, IRS had implemented three of the 21 suggestions.

In June 2016, GAO noted that IRS had recognized IT financial commitment priorities that supported two sorts of activities—operations and modernization. Though IRS experienced developed a system for prioritizing functions functions, it did not have such a process for modernization. Appropriately, GAO advisable that IRS build this system to superior assure Congress and other choice makers that the greatest priorities are funded. In September 2020, the agency instructed GAO that it expected to carry out this course of action for the fiscal yr 2022 funds cycle.

Why GAO Did This Review

The IRS, a bureau of the Division of the Treasury, depends extensively on IT to yearly obtain far more than $3 trillion in taxes, distribute more than $400 billion in refunds, and have out its mission of furnishing services to America’s taxpayers in assembly their tax obligations. This yr, IRS also relied on IT to method and disburse economic influence payments totaling hundreds of billions of bucks to millions of People in accordance with the Coronavirus Assist, Aid, and Economic Safety Act. IRS expects to commit $3.2 billion on IT for fiscal year 2020.

GAO was asked to testify about IT administration at IRS. Particularly, this testimony summarizes GAO’s prior reviews on IT problems that IRS has faced in carrying out its operational responsibilities and on opportunities for the agency to enhance the administration of its IT investments.

To do so, GAO reviewed its previously issued reviews identifying IT operational difficulties and prospects to improve the administration of its programs, and included info on the agency’s actions in response to associated suggestions.

What GAO Suggests

GAO has produced a selection of suggestions to IRS to deal with IT difficulties and essential advancements. While IRS has generally agreed with these, it still demands to put into action the many significant suggestions that keep on being fantastic.

For additional info, get hold of Vijay D’Souza at (202) 512-6240 or [email protected]

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