IRS vows to roll out taxpayer database in '04

The IRS won't release the initial version of the much-delayed Customer Account Data Engine, the centerpiece of its modernization effort, until 'sometime in 2004,' CIO W. Todd Grams said.

CADE eventually will replace the agency's 40-year-old magnetic tape Master File system, which houses the records of more than 200 million taxpayers.

The service had originally scheduled CADE's first phase for January 2002, Grams said last week. More recently, IRS officials set first-phase implementation of the system for March or April of next year.

IRS officials are working with Prime contractor Computer Sciences Corp. to produce what Grams called a risk-adjusted schedule for the database's first release.

He said he expected to have a more specific time frame by the end of this month.

'We literally are sitting down with the prime and their folks, and we're telling them we want to see a fully thought-out, risk-adjusted schedule,' Grams said. 'So I don't want to give a rough estimate. We want this to come from what they think, as the technicians on this, is the right time.'

The first release will account for only about 12 percent of the system's functionality but will provide the building blocks for future releases and bridges back to the old system, he said.

The IRS in July commissioned the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University to conduct a management and technical review of CADE.

Speaking at a forum held by Federal Sources Inc. of McLean, Va., Grams said the IRS expects to receive the results of the SEI study this month and will issue comments by the end of the year.

SEI is charged with taking a look at the CADE program from scratch, Grams said. 'Nothing's off the table,' he said. 'We said, 'You come back and tell us what you think we need to do.' '

In addition to the SEI study, IRS officials are awaiting results later this month of three other reviews by outside consultants:
  • A study by Bain & Co. of Boston commissioned by CSC to analyze its performance on the Prime contract

  • A benchmark study by Gartner Inc. of Stamford, Conn., of the modernization program's cost and schedule performance compared to similar industry projects

  • A study by Acquisition Solutions Inc. of Chantilly, Va., of procurement aspects of the program, including whether risk-sharing in the contract with CSC is balanced.

The cumulative results of the four studies will likely lead to changes in the modernization program, Grams said.

'Suffice it to say, we are taking a good, hard look at modernization from the ground up,' he said. 'There's no doubt that there are going to be some significant changes' to improve deliveries and keep to budgets and schedules.

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