Tax Administration:

IRS Faces Challenges in Reorganizing for Customer Service

GGD-96-3: Published: Oct 10, 1995. Publicly Released: Oct 10, 1995.

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GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) progress in realizing its plan for improving its customer service, focusing on: (1) IRS customer service goals and its plans to meet these goals; (2) the difficulty IRS has in meeting these goals; (3) current management concerns; and (4) important challenges IRS faces.

GAO found that: (1) IRS customer service goals are to provide better service to taxpayers, utilize its resources more efficiently, and improve taxpayers' compliance with tax laws; (2) IRS expects to improve its efficiency by having fewer work locations and automated workload management, giving customer service representatives better computer resources and access to taxpayer accounts, improving taxpayers' accessibility to telephone service, and allowing taxpayers to resolve their inquiries after a single telephone contact; (3) IRS has made progress toward its vision by initiating limited operations in new customer service centers; (4) current IRS management concerns include the lack of ownership for customer service, the absence of owner involvement during project development, and inadequate quality control to measure interactive telephone systems performance; (5) these management concerns have not had serious adverse effects on IRS goals because implementation of the customer service vision is still in the beginning stages; and (6) IRS will have to determine how to manage the transition to a different organization while maintaining ongoing workloads and developing and using new information technology in order to attain its customer service goals.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS has moved away from the Core Business Systems concept. Accordingly, this recommendation, which focuses directly on the Core Business Systems process, is obsolete. However, the Chief, Taxpayer Service has fully addressed the concern regarding a lack of clarity in implementing and managing the customer service vision by establishing an Executive Officer for Customer Service Operations (EOCSO). The EOCSO provides clarification and oversight by ensuring all Customer Service personnel (National Office/field) perform their duties.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clarify the criteria for assigning process owners responsibility for tax systems modernization (TSM) projects when they involve more than one core business system.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS has moved away from the Core Business Systems concept. Accordingly, this recommendation, which focuses directly on the Core Business Systems process, is obsolete. However, the Chief Taxpayer Service has fully addressed the concern regarding a lack of clarity in implementing and managing the customer service vision by establishing an Executive Officer for Customer Service Operations (EOCSO). The EOCSO provides clarification and oversight by ensuring all Customer Service personnel (National Office/field) perform their duties.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should define process owners' roles and responsibilities for TSM projects involving more than one core business system.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS has moved away from the Core Business Systems concept. Accordingly, this recommendation, which focuses directly on the Core Business Systems process, is obsolete. However, the Chief Taxpayer Service has fully addressed the concern regarding a lack of clarity in implementing and managing the customer service vision by establishing an Executive Officer for Customer Service Operations (EOCSO). Within the EOCSO's organization there is a Business Requirement operation.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should emphasize to those designated as process owners the need for them to provide the business requirements necessary to develop, test, and implement new customer service products and services.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

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