IRS makes little progress toward reform, review shows

IRS makes little progress toward reform, review shows

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

MAY 3—The IRS remains as troubled as it was almost two years ago, when the Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 was passed to correct some of its problems, federal officials said this morning at a joint congressional review of the tax service. But the current modernization agenda is a positive move toward reforming the agency, they said.

The joint review, the second since the establishment of the Restructuring Act, provided a forum for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Joint Committee on Taxation mandated by RRA and the IRS taxpayer advocate.

The IRS' problems reflect weaknesses in fundamental facets of its operations, such as its organizational structure, information systems, financial management, performance management and human capital, according to the General Accounting Office.

Three main challenges lie ahead, GAO said: completing all elements of a performance management system, revamping business practices and effectively modernizing systems.

TIGTA provided similar comments about the agency's ability to reform itself.

'These growing pains were a primary cause of the IRS' decision to scale back or delay delivery of several modernization initiatives originally slated to provide improved service to taxpayers by the 2001 tax filing season,' testified David C. Williams, inspector general at TIGTA.

Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti said he agreed that the IRS still faces challenges, especially in the area of systems modernization.

'This is a large and risky process, but the risks can be managed,' Rossotti testified. 'In order to succeed, we need to have adequate resources.'

Lawmakers agreed the modernization would require support from Capitol Hill.

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