Internal Revenue Service:

2001 Tax Filing Season, Systems Modernization, and Security of Electronic Filing

GAO-01-595T: Published: Apr 3, 2001. Publicly Released: Apr 3, 2001.

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This testimony discusses (1) the status of the 2001 tax filing season, (2) the status of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) business systems modernization effort, and (3) the security of IRS' electronic filing system. GAO found that although the 2001 filing season appears to be running smoothly, some matters require further attention. For example, IRS has had problems with the personal identification number assigned to electronic filers. Although data indicate that taxpayers are having an easier time reaching IRS to ask questions, concerns persist about the productivity of its telephone assistors. With respect to business systems modernization, GAO has long held that IRS needs to establish fundamental modernization management controls before it begins to build and implement modernized systems. IRS has made some progress in this area, but it is still not where it needs to be. GAO is concerned that IRS is allowing its system acquisition projects to get ahead of its capabilities for managing them. Lastly, GAO's review of IRS' electronic filing systems last year showed that IRS had ineffective controls to ensure the security of those systems and electronically-transmitted taxpayer data. IRS moved promptly to correct those access control weaknesses before this filing season began, according to IRS officials. It developed plans to improve security over its electronic filing systems and internal networks and said that it had substantially implemented those plans.

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