IRS recasts modernization in light of leaner budgets

Tighter budgets are forcing the IRS to recast and refocus its Business Systems Modernization.

Taxpayers and IRS are seeing some payoff from the program, with the deployment of the initial phases of some modernized systems last year, the Government Accountability Office said in congressional testimony earlier this week. GAO recommended the revisions IRS is implementing, which the tax agency said it expects to complete by the end of the fiscal year in September.

Project delays over the years have now bumped into tighter budgets. As a result of reduced funding, IRS has slowed the rollout of projects, reduced its reserve of management funds to cover cost overruns and increased the role of IRS staff members to manage the program from lead Prime contractor Computer Sciences Corp., GAO said.

IRS has improved its cost and schedule estimating in the past year, with the initial release of the Customer Account Data Engine, IRS' relational database of taxpayer information, as an example.

The improvement is due in part to implementing management controls, GAO said. IRS has also prioritized its modernization staffing needs and begun to tighten requirements, contract and program management weaknesses.

IRS staff members are taking responsibility from CSC for cost and schedule estimation and measurement, risk management, integration testing and deployment and transition management.

'The BSM program continues to be high risk, in part because projects have incurred significant cost increases and schedule delays and the program faces major challenges in areas such as human capital and requirements management,' said James White, director of GAO strategic issues, before the Appropriations Committee's Transportation, Treasury, the Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies subcommittee.

IRS' fiscal 2006 budget request reflects a continuing shift from taxpayer service and modernization to enforcement, GAO said. The IRS budget calls for $10.9 billion, 3.7 percent more than 2005 enacted levels. The budget includes 8 percent more for enforcement, 1 percent less for taxpayer service and 2 percent less for systems modernization.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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