IRS modernization chief to leave agency

As the IRS Business Systems Modernization initiative heads into a crucial phase, John Reece, the CIO and deputy commissioner for modernization who has overseen the project since March 2001, is planning to leave the agency.

Reece will leave at the end of April to resume operation of a consulting business after serving two years as the leader of the modernization project.

His departure will come as the IRS plans to roll out the first two phases in a multiyear effort to replace the taxpayer database.

The agency recently asked Congress for $429 million for the modernization effort. The IRS will spend the next two years changing the database, part of the agency's umbrella Integrated Data Retrieval System for maintaining various databases of taxpayer information.

The agency will establish a new database that will provide tax-account answers in real time.

'We have put a solid foundation in place for modernization, IT and security services to grow and build upon,' Reece said in a statement.

During Reece's tenure at IRS, the modernization project drew criticism from the General Accounting Office, IRS Oversight Board and Treasury inspector general for tax administration. Despite this, Reece called the effort 'challenging and rewarding.'

Reece was responsible for all of IRS' IT operations and for the entire IRS portfolio of Business Systems Modernization projects.

Portfolio and practices

He helped reorganize information systems for the modernization and updated the agency's business practices and technology after his predecessor, Paul Cosgrave, implemented a new IRS organization structure.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee could accelerate the confirmation process for Mark Everson, who President Bush nominated for IRS commissioner in January.

In light of Reece's imminent departure, a committee staff member said, the committee likely will conduct Everson's hearings as soon as possible. Although still gathering paperwork for the nomination, committee members plan to hold hearings this month.

The CIO and the commissioner are expected to work more closely than ever because of the Bush administration's push to consolidate federal financial systems and complete tax systems modernization, the staff member said.

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