IRS modernization left with lean budget

IRS modernization left with lean budget

The $388 billion omnibus spending bill makes available $205 million for contracts and management costs of the IRS' massive Business Systems Modernization program. The administration had sought $285 million for IRS modernization, about $100 million less than last year.

This year, IRS reduced the number of projects it was working on to heighten the chance of successfully implementing the most important ones. The agency also released initial versions of several modernization projects.

To prevent the schedule delays and cost overruns that have plagued BSM in the past, the bill requires the IRS to submit its project spending plan to the appropriations committees. The plan must meet federal capital planning and investment control review requirements; comply with the IRS enterprise architecture, and conform with the IRS enterprise lifecycle methodology. The Treasury Department, Office of Management and Budget, and Government Accountability Office must also review and approve the plan.

Todd Grams, the tax agency's CIO, accepted the cuts to the modernization program.

"The budget is what it is. Now we must focus on working with the IRS business units to adjust our plans and develop options consistent with these funding levels," he said. "We will also need to significantly adjust our 2005 plan for Business Systems Modernization. I am confident that we will meet the challenges presented by these budget levels, while building on our success in 2004."


The omnibus bill was passed Saturday, and President Bush is expected to sign it. But first Congress plans to remove a controversial provision that would have allowed Appropriations committees to review taxpayers' returns. They expect to repeal it tomorrow.

The bill also targets more than $32 million for the Treasury Department to develop and acquire automatic data processing equipment, software and services.

Language in the spending bill related to IRS oversight set off a furor over the weekend. It appeared that wording that staff inserted during debate over the bill gave the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees the power to look at taxpayer returns, which are protected information.

'I'm satisfied that nobody intended to breach or to weaken the privacy laws that protect people's tax returns,' Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies, said yesterday in a statement. Oversight may include visiting and inspecting IRS processing centers and their progress in modernizing, but not tax returns, Istook said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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