Tax Administration:

Need for More Management Attention to IRS' College Recruitment Program

GGD-90-32: Published: Dec 22, 1989. Publicly Released: Jan 30, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) efforts to recruit college graduates for its enforcement staff, focusing on: (1) the quality of IRS enforcement recruits; (2) IRS management of its college recruitment program; and (3) IRS relationships with colleges and universities.

GAO found that: (1) the main obstacle that impeded IRS recruitment of quality enforcement staff was noncompetitive starting salaries; (2) although IRS increased its starting salaries in some high-cost geographical areas, they were still below its competitors' salaries; (3) IRS had no quantitative data to support its managers' generally positive views on the quality of enforcement recruits; (4) many managers cited the same evaluation factors, but used different standards to interpret them; (5) inadequate funding, insufficient staffing, and field office resistance impeded IRS progress in implementing its recruitment improvement projects; (6) IRS relied on duplicative, uncoordinated efforts at the local level, rather than addressing IRS-wide problems on a national scale; (7) the IRS Human Resources Division provided little recruitment guidance to the field offices, did not require reporting of field activities, and did not conduct recruitment program reviews; and (8) although IRS established a Campus Executive Program that targeted certain schools for special attention, many schools were not aware of the program or their status under it.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS' January 1993 Plan for Human Resource Issues included a recommendation that the application of recruiting program resources be targeted more effectively by developing measurement systems. The latest data available to GAO indicated that implementation of this recommendation was still under consideration. GAO's recommendation is now 5-years old. GAO sees no reason to keep it open any longer.

    Recommendation: The IRS Human Resources Division should develop a measurement system that will allow comparisons of data on new enforcement staff to the standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service: Human Resources Division

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS says that it had implemented this recommendation as of December 31, 1991. GAO has been unsuccessful in getting sufficient details with which to assess the adequacy of IRS actions.

    Recommendation: The IRS Human Resources Division should establish standards for each of those measures (in top 10 percent of graduating class might be one standard of academic performance).

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service: Human Resources Division

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to cognizant IRS staff, performance measures have been developed and put in place.

    Recommendation: The IRS Human Resources Division should develop a set of performance measures that can be used to assess the quality of new enforcement staff (academic performance is an example of such a measure).

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service: Human Resources Division

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: By requiring the regions to prepare recruitment plans and to review and report on recruitment activities, the National Office has established a mechanism for more actively directing/overseeing the college recruitment program. IRS annual business reviews also provide a mechanism for central oversight.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct the Human Resources Division to take a more active role in directing and overseeing the college recruitment program.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The National Office required each IRS region to prepare a recruitment plan, including Campus Executive activities, and to review and report on those activities by May 31, 1992. IRS is also in the process of reassessing its human resource activities and identifying its human resource requirements. GAO thinks action has progressed far enough to consider this recommendation closed.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct the Human Resources Division to assess the Campus Executive Program to: (1) determine what each district office is doing to establish effective working relationships with target schools; and (2) identify any needed changes to the program.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A June 1992 draft IRS plan for human resource issues stated that IRS still had no method to track recruiting results. IRS issued its final plan in January 1993, which included a recommendation that measurement systems be developed to more effectively target the application of recruiting program resources. The latest data available to GAO indicated that implementation of this internal IRS recommendation was still under consideration. Because GAO's recommendation is 5 years old, it is being closed.

    Recommendation: The IRS Human Resources Division should use this information to periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the college recruitment program at the district, regional, and national levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service: Human Resources Division

 

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