IRS commish says '05 budget can cover the service's needs

IRS commish says '05 budget can cover the service's needs

Countering a report out yesterday, IRS commissioner Mark Everson told lawmakers the tax agency will be able to continue its business systems modernization and boost enforcement activities without impairing taxpayer service under the White House fiscal 2005 funding proposal.

President Bush's plan would give the IRS $285 million for its systems program, 26.5 percent less than the tax agency will spend this year. The agency has scaled back its modernization projects to mesh with the planned 2005 funding and revised its relationship with its Prime contractor Computer Sciences Corp. to keep IT projects on track, Everson told the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Oversight yesterday afternoon.

The IRS also expects the first release of its new taxpayer database, the Customer Account Data Engine, later this year. 'We're still shooting for this summer. We're pleased with the progress,' Everson said.

In its report released yesterday, the IRS Oversight Board concluded that the 2005 funding proposal shortchanged the agency in several areas, including IT. It said the administration should earmark $400 million for modernization, but that it should tightly manage how the IRS spends the funds [see GCN story].

IT modernization is key to improving taxpayer services and enforcement, a General Accounting Office official told lawmakers. 'If successful, business systems modernization will allow the IRS to better serve taxpayers and enforce tax laws without a major increase in staffing and other resources,' said James White, GAO's director of tax issues.

But modernization continues to be a high-risk area, he acknowledged. Its scope and complexity are growing and projects continue to experience cost overruns and delays, White noted in his written testimony. The IRS has made progress in improving management controls and capabilities, he said.

The IRS Oversight Board's chairwoman told lawmakers the administration's budget proposal is inadequate. 'It is time to strengthen IRS, not just maintain it,' chairwoman Nancy Killefer said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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