October 26, 2020

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U.S. GAO – Data Know-how: IRS Demands to Address Operational Troubles and Chances to Enhance Management

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What GAO Identified

Info technological innovation (IT) operational challenges have hampered the Inner Income Service’s (IRS) means to successfully carry out its tasks. For case in point:

In Might 2020, GAO reported that new and continuing deficiencies in facts method stability controls over economic and tax processing programs involved deficiencies similar to entry controls, segregation of duties, and other regions. These collectively represented a significant deficiency in dangers of unauthorized access to, modification of, or disclosure of financial reporting and taxpayer knowledge and disruption of vital functions. GAO created 18 new recommendations to handle these deficiencies, bringing the complete quantity of GAO cybersecurity tips that IRS has not nevertheless applied to 132.

A January 2020 GAO report said that client support associates and frontline managers claimed routinely enduring pc difficulties that adversely impacted their ability to provide taxpayers. Particularly, they noted their computers freezing or getting abnormal time to reboot. These computer system difficulties could lead to cellphone calls to disconnect prior to taxpayer problems were fixed, which essential taxpayers to phone again and wait around in the queue again. GAO encouraged that IRS handle this obstacle IRS now has steps underway to put into action GAO’s advice.

GAO has also issued numerous reports pinpointing various opportunities for the IRS to enhance the administration of its IT investments. IRS has dealt with some of the connected tips but other vital kinds are not yet executed. For case in point:

In June 2018, GAO claimed that IRS had not thoroughly applied critical risk administration tactics for a few mission essential programs facing significant dangers owing to their reliance on legacy programming languages, outdated hardware, and a lack of human resources with essential expertise. For example, for one particular of the devices, the more than 50-12 months previous Particular person Learn File, IRS was using assembly language and Pc Small business Oriented Language (COBOL)—languages that were being the two made in the 1950s. As a result of these and other findings in its report, GAO created 21 tips to IRS. As of September 2020, IRS experienced implemented three of the 21 recommendations.

In June 2016, GAO noted that IRS had proven IT financial commitment priorities that supported two varieties of activities—operations and modernization. Even though IRS experienced made a method for prioritizing functions pursuits, it did not have this sort of a process for modernization. Accordingly, GAO encouraged that IRS establish this method to greater guarantee Congress and other choice makers that the maximum priorities are funded. In September 2020, the agency explained to GAO that it anticipated to carry out this system for the fiscal yr 2022 price range cycle.

Why GAO Did This Research

The IRS, a bureau of the Office of the Treasury, relies thoroughly on IT to each year gather far more than $3 trillion in taxes, distribute additional than $400 billion in refunds, and carry out its mission of giving support to America’s taxpayers in conference their tax obligations. This calendar year, IRS also relied on IT to method and disburse economic effects payments totaling hundreds of billions of dollars to thousands and thousands of Us residents in accordance with the Coronavirus Help, Reduction, and Financial Protection Act. IRS expects to spend $3.2 billion on IT for fiscal calendar year 2020.

GAO was requested to testify about IT management at IRS. Specifically, this testimony summarizes GAO’s prior studies on IT worries that IRS has faced in carrying out its operational duties and on options for the company to improve the management of its IT investments.

To do so, GAO reviewed its previously issued experiences figuring out IT operational troubles and chances to boost the management of its systems, and integrated info on the agency’s actions in reaction to connected suggestions.

What GAO Endorses

GAO has built a variety of recommendations to IRS to tackle IT problems and required enhancements. Although IRS has commonly agreed with these, it however wants to put into action the numerous critical recommendations that stay fantastic.

For a lot more data, call Vijay D’Souza at (202) 512-6240 or [email protected]

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