Barr to leave IRS, join Dell

Barr to leave IRS, join Dell

SEPT. 21'Robert Barr, whose three-year stint at the IRS resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of electronic filing, said he will leave the agency Oct. 6 and join Dell Computer Corp. as director of federal marketing.

'The snowball around electronic government at the IRS is unstoppable,' Barr told GCN. 'That's when I said all along I'd return to the private sector. IRS is fully committed' to online filing and electronic interactions with tax return preparers and taxpayers, he said.

As the IRS's assistant commissioner for Electronic Tax Administration, Barr led a push that propelled the number of 1040s received online from 19 million in fiscal year 1998 to 35 million this year, and Treasury deposits collected electronically from $384 billion to $1.5 trillion. Also this year, businesses filed 300 million tax returns or reports electronically.

As evidence of the urgency with which Barr said he approached ETA, he pulled a pager from his pocket on which he receives twice-daily year-to-date statistics on electronic filing. For example, by 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 21, the IRS had received precisely 35,380,397 1040s electronically, the readout stated.

Before joining the IRS, Barr, a one-time programmer, was a marketing executive at Intuit Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., a publisher of tax return software.

Barr said he enjoyed his three years of federal service.

'Everybody should take the time to serve the government,' he said. Although it represented a financial sacrifice, Barr said, the 'call to public service' was one he couldn't turn down. 'I've had an absolute blast,' he added.

He said he is most proud of the fact that in a University of Michigan customer satisfaction survey, where IRS as a whole received a 51 percent satisfaction rating'one of the lowest recorded'those who file electronically gave the agency a 74 percent rating.

'That drives even more aggressively going forward,' he said.

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