IRS Employee Evaluations:

Opportunities to Better Balance Customer Service and Compliance Objectives

GGD-00-1: Published: Oct 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1999.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

James R. White
(202) 512-3000
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the extent to which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee evaluation system can support the new mission statement during the period IRS will need to revamp its performance management system, focusing on: (1) determining the relative emphasis on revenue production, efficiency, and customer service in enforcement employees' annual written evaluations; (2) identifying features of the evaluation process that might be used to greater advantage to reinforce the importance of customer service; and (3) describing IRS initiatives to promote customer service, including those to encourage enforcement employees to be taxpayer oriented.

GAO noted that: (1) IRS could take advantage of opportunities within the evaluation process to reinforce the importance of customer service among its frontline enforcement employees; (2) there are a number of reasons for doing so; (3) most importantly, the evaluation process is not aligned with IRS' new mission statement because it emphasizes revenue production more than customer service; (4) also, it is uncertain when a new performance management system that IRS is planning will become fully operational; (5) enforcement employees' two most recent written evaluations for the period ending June 1998 emphasized their revenue production and efficiency skills more than their customer service skills; (6) available evidence indicates that four features of the evaluation process could be used to greater advantage to reinforce the importance of customer service among enforcement employees; (7) if the features were to be used more, however, IRS would need to consider the potential implications for the way in which supervisors allocate their time between these and other administrative tasks; (8) the narrative portion an employee's written evaluation provides flexibility for supervisors to focus on employees' customer service skills; (9) midyear progress reviews, which are required, provide supervisors with opportunities to give interim feedback on aspects of case handling in relation to customer service (and other) goals; (10) mandatory reviews of sampling of completed cases present another opportunity for supervisors to comment on customer service skills because these are ex post facto examinations of documents prepared by employees to support their case decisions; (11) field visits present an excellent opportunity to reinforce customer service; (12) IRS has implemented a number of initiatives to promote customer service; (13) it has: (a) revised its strategic goals; (b) aligned them with its mission statement; and (c) introduced organizational performance measures that are to balance customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and business results; (14) in the meantime, IRS has taken several interim actions to encourage enforcement employees to be taxpayer oriented; and (15) it has incorporated into the employee evaluation process a new retention standard relating to the fair and equitable treatment of taxpayers that employees must meet at a passing level to retain their jobs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Guidance has been issued on when supervisors should provide narrative for critical job elements, conducting field visits, and midyear progress reviews.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop an interim approach for making better use of enforcement employees' performance evaluations to develop and encourage good customer service. The approach could include providing guidance on the conditions under which supervisors should provide narrative for critical job elements and conduct field visits in assessing individual employees. As part of developing the approach, the Commissioner should determine whether to better enforce the existing agency policies requiring that supervisors conduct midyear progress reviews of all enforcement employees and review a sample of their caseloads annually.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: IRS is revamping its employee evaluation system for revenue officers. IRS has changed the employees' critical job elements, which are different than those on which we based our recommendation. Therefore, GAO's recommendation is no longer applicable.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the Collection Division supervisors are given more comprehensive guidance on how the revised elements are to be incorporated into the evaluation process and used to evaluate revenue officers.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 13, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Jul 29, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 27, 2016

Jun 23, 2016

Apr 19, 2016

Apr 13, 2016

Apr 7, 2016

Mar 28, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here