IRS suffers; Customs, US Visit gain

The Bush administration slashed funding for the Internal Revenue Service's IT modernization effort by more than 25 percent in the agency's fiscal 2005 budget request.

The Prime Integration Services program to overhaul IRS' aging IT infrastructure systems, a $5 billion contract awarded to Computer Sciences Corp. in December 1998, had its planned budget cut from $387.7 million in fiscal 2004 to $285 million next year.

In December, the IRS Oversight Board issued a report critical of the agency and CSC in their efforts to carry out the modernization program, and raised the prospect of removing the company as the lead contractor. One of the board's recommendations was to reduce the number of simultaneous projects. In the IRS' explanation of the 2005 budget request, the agency said it was focusing its efforts on a "smaller portfolio of investments."

By contrast, funding for the $5 billion Customs Service modernization program awarded to IBM Corp. in April 2001 is growing.

Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service were combined and turned into two new directorates with the creation of the Homeland Security Department.

In the Customs and Border Protection directorate, funding for automation modernization increased $450 million in 2005 from $439 million in 2004.

Also at DHS, the U.S. Visitor Immigration Status Indication Technology System program, known as U.S. Visit, had its funding boosted to $340 million in 2005, up from $328 million in 2004.

U.S. Visit began screening international visitors at 451 airports across the country Jan. 1. A second phase that adds more seaports and the busiest land entry points will go into effect in January 2005. A third phase for the rest of the land entry points is slated for January 2006.

The agency plans to award a contract in May to overhaul and integrate all the existing border control systems. *

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