IRS cuts jobs as competitive sourcing, Internet make inroads

The IRS will cut 218 IT workers at 10 sites nationwide as the result of a competitive-sourcing review under the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A-76 to streamline government, the IRS said Thursday.

The growth of electronic filing and the availability of computer-generated tax forms are reducing the demand for paper forms and the need for employees who service them.

The job cuts are in the agency's campus print operations, part of the Modernization and Information Technology Services, which provides IT products and services related to the processing of tax returns and providing customer service. The number of employees performing this function will drop to 60 employees from 278, with only five in each location and a quality control center.

The leader of the union representing IRS employees called the layoffs 'an unnecessary and unfortunate choice.' With a large number of employees losing their jobs at the same time, Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, anticipated the 'likelihood of a detrimental impact on service to the public.' NTEU had encouraged the agency to use attrition and retraining.

Those targeted for layoffs may be computer operators and staff who resolve high-speed print problems or print documents, IRS said.

'The nature of the work is changing as the new organization takes over,' said IRS spokesman John Lipold. About 80 percent of the documents these employees previously printed can be viewed online now. Also fewer technicians to resolve printing problems and other services will be necessary.

During the transition until the smaller government team takes effect June 1, 2005, IRS said it would try to place them elsewhere in the agency and negotiate with the union over benefits, such as early retirement. The NTEU urged the IRS to use all available programs, such as indirect buyouts, priority placement and a hiring freeze, to soften the impact.

Wednesday the IRS announced that 274 employees will lose their jobs as the result of a competitive-sourcing study of its area distribution centers, which processes orders for paper tax forms. 'Orders have declined 6 percent per year over the last five or six years,' Lipold said. The area distribution centers in Richmond, Va., and Rancho Cordova, Calif., will close. Consolidation will take place in February. IRS said it is assisting those employees with the job search.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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