IRS must improve testing for new accounting system, IG says

IRS must improve testing for new accounting system, IG says

Because the IRS did not adequately track systems requirements when it tested the initial release of a taxpayer accounts data warehouse, it did not release Version 1 for fear the system might not function as planned, according to a new inspector general report.

Testers of the Custodial Accounting Project could not determine whether systems requirements were successfully reviewed, which led the IRS to postpone CAP's deployment, said the report from the Treasury Department's IG for tax administration.

Instead, the agency released Version 1.1 in late summer, which incorporated additional reporting capabilities and made monitoring the system in tests easier.

Ultimately, CAP is supposed to improve the service's ability to analyze taxpayer accounts and correct weaknesses, which cost the government tax revenue and increase taxpayer burden. It also will provide controls and reporting for data extracted from the new taxpayer database, the Customer Account Data Engine, which the IRS began deploying during the summer, and the legacy Master File.

The kernel of the testing problem was a change in scope, the report said.

'The IRS approved changes to the baseline systems requirements without always knowing which systems requirements were affected,' said Gordon Milbourn III, Treasury's assistant IG for audit.

The report also noted that the IRS' plan did not include testing the main systems performance before deployment. The agency also had not fully implemented improvements that IRS had developed for itself.

The IRS has changed its approach to managing requirements for follow-on CAP versions, CIO Todd Grams said in a written response to the IG. 'We continue to utilize and strengthen the requirements management practices as outlined in the enterprise lifecycle,' he said.

The later versions will create an audit trail that will 'improve the tracking of test scripts to requirements,' Grams said.

The IG report makes three chief recommendations for changes to future CAP releases:

  • Define, track and report on system requirements


  • Test main system performance requirements as soon as possible


  • Carry out internal review recommendations quickly.


About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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