GAO Gives IRS Plan Qualified Thumbs Up

GAO Gives IRS Plan Qualified Thumbs Up

The General Accounting Office reported to the Senate and House Appropriations committees Jan. 22 that the Internal Revenue Service is making significant progress in its systems modernization efforts, but still faces challenges ensuring that new systems meet operational and cost goals.

The GAO review was triggered by the IRS' October 2000 request that Congress approves the release of $200 million from the agency's systems modernization appropriations account.

Treasury Department appropriations acts in fiscal 1998 and 1999 required that the IRS meet certain performance conditions before funds can be released.

The conditions included implementing a modernization blueprint; meeting the Office of Management and Budget's system investment guidelines; meeting IRS life-cycle management requirements; a review and approval by IRS, Treasury and OBM; a GAO review; and meeting federal acquisition requirements and management practices.

The GAO recommended Congress release the $200 million, concluding the IRS plan for using the requested funds met the conditions.

Senate Appropriations Committee staff confirmed the funds have been made available for the IRS modernization program.

But the review also found that while the IRS has made progress in establishing effective modernization management capabilities, problems still exist.

For instance, the report said: "IRS had developed a draft enterprise architecture, but still needed to resolve significant issues concerning its completeness and accuracy. Until these and other modernization management weaknesses were fully addressed, we concluded, key modernization controls would be missing, putting IRS at risk of building systems that might perform as intended, might cost more, and might take longer to complete."

The report also found several modernization initiatives had experienced schedule delays or cost increases.

Among several recommendations, the GAO suggested the IRS commissioner expedite completing the agency's enterprise architecture releases and implementing other missing management controls, and not approve and fund any detailed design and development activities for any systems until the enterprise architecture definition is complete.

The IRS, in a separate news release Jan. 22, announced several personnel changes in the agency's business systems modernization program.

Bert Concklin, director of the BSM program, was named to a new position as associate commissioner for business systems modernization, reporting to the Office of the Commissioner. Bob Albicker, currently the deputy chief information officer, was named deputy associate commissioner for systems integration. Jim Williams, director of procurement, was made deputy associate commissioner for program management. Tommy DeWeese, the current deputy director of BSMO, will become the deputy associate commissioner for program planning and control.

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