IRS' Gross to leave April 1, says he's reached his goals

Gross said he will leave his post April 1 to work with a nonprofit organization outside
Washington.


The announcement came only days after new IRS commissioner Charles Rossotti testified
on Capitol Hill about a reorganization of the agency and discussed his ideas about the tax
systems modernization effort.


Gross in the fall had unveiled a new modernization strategy and more recently a draft
solicitation for a lead contractor to oversee the effort.


But Rossotti said he wanted to review the plan and might consider a less
mainframe-centric approach [GCN, Jan. 26, Page 1].


Rossotti's comments in a December memo to the would-be IRS modernization contractors
sparked rumors among vendors that he and Gross might be at odds over the tax systems
modernization.


The five-phase modernization program developed by Gross' team would take 15 years to
complete. IRS had planned to issue a request for proposals last month for a prime
contractor to oversee the modernization, but Rossotti postponed its release.


Gross praised his fellow IRS employees and Rossotti.


"Having achieved the objectives originally set out for me by the Treasury
Department and by IRS, I believe it's time to move on to a new challenge," Gross said
in a written statement.


"I am very confident that commissioner Rossotti, with his vast experience in the
information technology field, has both the expertise and the leadership to ensure the
implementation of the blueprint in a way that will interface with his vision of IRS,"
Gross said.


Rossotti said he received Gross' resignation with regret and called the departure a
great loss for IRS.


Treasury officials and Hill lawmakers often lauded Gross for his work at IRS. In a
previous job with New York, Gross modernized the state's tax system.


Just days before the Gross announcement, Rossotti told a Senate Finance Committee that
he must re-evaluate the modernization plan. He also said the agency needs an
organizational overhaul and that he needs to restructure IRS to make it more
user-friendly.


After the hearing, Rossotti told reporters, "This is a long-term plan. It will not
delay the modernization."


Rossotti and other IRS officials said the reorganization plan is simply an idea, and it
might not be realized. Rossotti said the agency will hire a consultant to study the
reorganization plan's merits.


He told the Senate he is committed to systems modernization.


"The recently issued technology modernization blueprint and the chief information
officer organization provide an outstanding and professional basis for managing the
evolution of our technology," he said.


But, he added, "building new computer systems that support the old business
practices and complex organization structure will not work."


In the December memo to the Lockheed Martin Corp. and Computer Science Corp. bidding
teams, Rossotti said IRS might change the role and scope of responsibilities of the prime
contractors, assign more integration roles to IRS and introduce more competition among the
prime contractor's team members.

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