Tax Systems Modernization:

Results of Review of IRS' March 7, 2000, Expenditure Plan

AIMD-00-175: Published: May 24, 2000. Publicly Released: May 24, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) second Information Technology Investment Account (ITIA) expenditure plan, focusing on: (1) the progress IRS has made in meeting the commitments in its first expenditure plan; (2) whether the plan satisfies the conditions specified in the Department of the Treasury's fiscal year 1998 and 1999 appropriations acts; (3) whether the plan is consistent with GAO's open recommendations on IRS' systems modernization; and (4) whether GAO have any other observations about IRS' systems modernization efforts.

GAO noted that: (1) IRS met relatively few commitments in its $35 million first ITIA expenditure plan, even though the IRS later received an additional $33 million and nearly 5 months of extra time to accomplish the goals set forth in the plan; (2) notwithstanding IRS' progress to date, GAO believes that its second expenditure plan satisfies the legislative conditions placed on the use of ITIA funds, and it is generally consistent with recommendations contained in GAO's earlier reports for strengthening its modernization management capability before building new systems; (3) in particular, the second expenditure plan places appropriate emphasis and priority on implementing and updating the modernization blueprint in light of recent organizational restructuring and ongoing business process reengineering as well as technology advances; (4) also, the plan provides for fully implementing the Enterprise Life Cycle and related software acquisition and investment management processes and slowing investments in new systems until these management controls are established; (5) as was the case with the first plan, the key to IRS' success will be whether it effectively implements the second expenditure plan; (6) to improve on its performance in implementing the first plan and to establish the much needed management and technical foundation for modernizing its systems, IRS will need to adhere to its stated commitment of first establishing the institutional management and technical processes and the architecture artifacts that are absolute prerequisites to building a portfolio of interrelated systems that deliver promised functionality and performance on time and within budget; (7) to establish its modernization management and technical foundation capabilities and refrain from building systems until it does so, IRS has recently initiated actions, as described in the second expenditure plan, to redirect and restructure its modernization effort; and (8) until it has completed these actions, it will continue to lack key modernization and technical controls, such as complete and enforced architecture, fully implemented life cycle methodology, clearly defined contractor roles and responsibilities, and fully implemented investment management controls.

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