IRS Telephone Assistance:

Quality of Service Mixed in the 2000 Filing Season and Below IRS' Long-Term Goal

GAO-01-189: Published: Apr 6, 2001. Publicly Released: May 7, 2001.


James R. White
(202) 512-5594


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must significantly improve telephone assistance if it is to meet its long-term goal of providing world-class customer service to the tens of millions of taxpayers who call. Although IRS has tried to analyze its performance and identify ways to improve, these efforts have been incomplete. IRS' analyses did not cover all of the key management decisions and other key factors that affect telephone performance. Designing and conducting a comprehensive analysis of the key management decisions and other key factors that affect telephone performance in each filing season will be difficult because the factors that affect performance are multiple and interrelated. However, without a more comprehensive analysis of the factors that affect performance, IRS lacks the information it needs to make decisions to improve performance.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that, as part of its performance analysis each filing season, the IRS take into account all key management decisions and other key factors that can affect performance, such as implementing 24-hour, 7-day assistance and the decline in assistor productivity, to determine their impact on the quality of service and to make improvements.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IRS analyzed and took action on one of the management decisions GAO specifically identified (the decision to provide 24 hour/7 day telephone service). More globally, IRS said that it would conduct performance analyses as part of its annual filing season evaluation, and that it had developed a sophisticated modeling tool that it would begin using in fiscal year 2002, to perform simulations to determine the impact of decisions on service delivery. On July 1, 2003, GAO received documentation that IRS did a critique of the 2002 filing season in response to GAO's recommendation.

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