Tax Systems Modernization:

Factors Critical to Success

T-IMTEC-92-10: Published: Mar 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Tax Systems Modernization Program. GAO noted that: (1) under the existing tax processing system, returns processing is heavily centralized at one computing center where IRS maintains its master files on individuals and businesses; (2) under the proposed system, IRS would move the computing power to IRS service centers, which would use electronically stored data and document images, an on-line database of taxpayers accounts, and a network of electronic work stations to eliminate most paper-handling and quickly respond to taxpayer needs; and (3) the estimated net cost for the life of the modernization is $7.6 billion, and the estimated net life-cycle benefits of the modernization total $17.6 billion. GAO also noted that factors critical to the modernization's success include: (1) the development of a well-communicated vision of how IRS intends to do business in the future; (2) the completion of key planning components to help ensure the successful development of modernization systems and that such systems work together as intended; (3) the implementation of a tracking mechanism to monitor project costs, benefits, and schedules; (4) the availability of required technology when needed; (5) improved IRS procurement management; (6) better IRS management of its overall systems development process; (7) the implementation of a strategy for hiring, training, and retaining personnel possessing the managerial and technical expertise required for the modernization; and (8) addressing the privacy and security aspects of the modernization.

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