IRS inspector general: Agency should test CADE changes more extensively

IRS inspector general: Agency should test CADE changes more extensively

The IRS should direct its lead modernization contractor to conduct thorough performance tests of project development changes to its new taxpayer database before the system is deployed, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in a report released this week.

In addition, IRS should approve documentation for future releases of the Customer Account Data Engine before pilots or live production are allowed to proceed, the report stated. It should also automate inefficient manual processes in future CADE releases and test all aspects of the database's disaster recovery version in future releases.

IRS made a major upgrade to a CADE segment called Delta Build before deploying it this summer without the 'level and volume of performance testing, simulating high-volume processing a pilot test offers,' said Gordon Milbourn III, acting deputy inspector general for audit, in the report. Changes included improvements to the job control language, file and naming standards, and address verification software. 'Further, because the Delta Build was not included in the high-volume 2004 pilot testing, CADE is at risk to experience taxpayer account and refund processing problems during high-volume periods of the 2005 filing season,' he said.

CADE is designed to replace the 40-year-old Master File system of taxpayer accounts. Lead contractor Computer Sciences Corp. deployed the initial version in July, after years of schedule delays, to process the simplest tax returns. The next version is expected to be ready for the 2005 tax season beginning in January and process about 2 million EZ1040 returns.

IRS, which is implementing the recommendations, will have two annual CADE deliveries in January and July. January's release will accommodate annual tax law changes, while the midyear release will incorporate more complex functionality and have higher risk, said IRS CIO Todd Grams.

'For the July release, returns will be available from the previous six months, which will enable us to test the higher-risk, complex changes with high volumes, which will mitigate the operational risks,' Grams said in a response last month to the inspector general.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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