Barr, IRS e-filing chief, will step down and take position with Dell

Barr, IRS e-filing chief, will step down and take position with Dell

Robert Barr, whose three-year stint at the IRS helped bring on a marked increase in the level of electronic filing, will leave the service this week and join Dell Computer Corp. as director of federal marketing.

'The snowball around electronic government at the IRS is unstoppable,' Barr said. 'That's when I said all along I'd return to the private sector.'

The IRS is fully committed to online filing and electronic interactions with tax return preparers and taxpayers, he said.

'I've had an absolute blast,' says IRS' Robert Barr, who will leave the service this week.

As the IRS assistant commissioner for electronic tax administration, Barr led a push that propelled the number of 1040 forms 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.

Since joining the agency, Barr has carried a pager on which he receives twice-daily, year-to-date statistics on electronic filing.

Barr predicted success for the latest modernizing initiative, which, he said, 'has a slow and rocky start. But the agency is going prudently. It needs to invest in the basics of requirements and lifecycle planning.'

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 he said 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.'

Barr said he is most proud of the service rating that the IRS received on a recent customer satisfaction survey that was conducted by the University of Michigan.

The IRS as a whole received a 51 percent satisfaction rating'one of the lowest recorded, but survey respondents who file electronically gave the agency a 74 percent rating.

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

Barr said the IRS would continue to push online filing by delivering to tax preparers a suite of Web services. Preparers file half of all tax returns, he said, so by targeting them the IRS can quickly ramp up the number of returns it receives online from 28 percent to 60 percent.


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