Tax Administration:

Lessons Learned From IRS' Initial Experience in Redeploying Employees

GGD-97-24: Published: Jan 9, 1997. Publicly Released: Jan 9, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) initial efforts to redeploy employees under the terms of the Redeployment Understanding, focusing on whether there were lessons to be learned from: (1) IRS' initial use of redeployment procedures and their impact on IRS' operations; and (2) the reaction of redeployed employees and their supervisors to redeployment and the redeployment process.

GAO found that: (1) if IRS develops new redeployment procedures, there are several lessons to be learned from its initial redeployment experiences; (2) although redeployment was intended as a way to move employees out of jobs that would no longer be needed in IRS' modernized environment, it was initially used to move thousands of employees whose jobs were not in immediate jeopardy into new or existing positions that were expected to be needed in the new environment; (3) many jobs vacated by redeployed employees had to be filled by new employees, who may subsequently have to redeployed; (4) training requirements increased and productivity and taxpayer services declined as experienced employees were replaced by inexperienced employees; (5) although some operational inefficiencies, such as reduced productivity and increased training, can be expected as an inherent part of any redeployment process, the negotiated Redeployment Understanding exacerbated these inefficiencies because it generally made many IRS employees eligible for redeployment years before their jobs were expected to be eliminated, and did not allow IRS to fill jobs with employees who had related experience before bringing in volunteers from unrelated areas; (6) GAO's interviews of redeployed employees and supervisors pointed to other lessons that might be learned from IRS' initial redeployment efforts; and (7) most employees were generally satisfied with their new jobs, and supervisors were generally satisfied with their new employees, but many employees cited concerns about the information IRS provided to explain the redeployment process, the assistance IRS provided to help employees find jobs, and the training IRS provided.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation but circumstances indicate that future redeployment procedures are not likely, at least in the near future. IRS terminated its Redeployment Agreement with the employees union and no longer has employees designated as Redeployment Eligible. According to IRS, its restructuring efforts follow the guidance contained in the IRS/Employees Union Pre-RIF Activities Agreement.

    Recommendation: Should future redeployment procedures be developed, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should address the problems identified in this report, including limiting redeployment eligibility to employees whose current jobs have been (or will be) substantially altered or eliminated, so that redeployment of employees is timed closely with the implementation of modernization projects or consolidation efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation but circumstances indicate that future redeployment procedures are not likely, at least in the near future. IRS terminated its Redeployment Agreement with the employees union and no longer has employees designated as Redeployment Eligible. According to IRS, its restructuring efforts follow the guidance contained in the IRS/Employees Union Pre-RIF Activities Agreement.

    Recommendation: Should future redeployment procedures be developed, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should address the problems identified in this report, including allowing IRS to redirect employees who are currently and successfully performing existing jobs to redesigned jobs that are substantially the same before seeking volunteers from unrelated functions (similar to the exceptions made for district Automated Collection System and Taxpayer Service employees).

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation but circumstances indicate that future redeployment procedures are not likely, at least in the near future. IRS terminated its Redeployment Agreement with the employees union and no longer has employees designated as Redeployment Eligible. According to IRS, its restructuring efforts follow the guidance contained in the IRS/Employees Union Pre-RIF Activities Agreement.

    Recommendation: As a part of managing any future redeployment effort, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should consider ways to improve management communications with employees concerning redeployment assistance, information, and training. In doing so, IRS might ask itself such things as whether it is providing information that clearly explains: (1) redeployment policies and procedures; (2) which jobs are expected to be eliminated, continued, and redesigned and when; and (3) the nature and extent of available redeployment assistance.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

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