Tax Administration:

Better Measures Needed to Assess Progress of IRS' One-Stop Service

GGD-94-131: Published: Aug 29, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 1994.

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Lynda D. Willis
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) efforts to implement one-stop telephone service to respond to taxpayer questions and complaints.

GAO found that: (1) one-stop service, if properly implemented, would significantly improve IRS service to taxpayers; (2) IRS has taken steps to improve its telephone account service for taxpayers; (3) IRS has overstated its accomplishments in providing one-stop telephone service because its measure of service is flawed; (4) many of the callers IRS assumes receive one-stop service have to make further contact with IRS to resolve tax issues; (5) several obstacles, including processing delays and congested telephone lines, hinder IRS ability to provide one-stop telephone service; (6) IRS has not yet analyzed its ability to deliver one-stop service in areas other than account inquiries because it assumes that taxpayers making other types of inquiries usually receive one-stop service; (7) although IRS has begun to measure one-stop service for calls to automated collection sites and has made attempts to measure service in handling taxpayer correspondence, little has been done to measure one-stop service for forms distribution centers and walk-in sites; and (8) IRS should develop better measures to assess all of its service activities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS changed and expanded its definition of one-stop service in accordance with the recommendation. The new measure "initial contact resolution" has both baselines and goals to assess performance.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop better measures of one-stop service that do not include instances where taxpayers will likely need to contact IRS again about the same matter. The measures developed should apply to all taxpayer telephone inquiries, including account-related, tax law, and procedural inquiries as well as calls to automated collection sites and forms distribution sites, service center correspondence activities, and walk-in sites. Moreover, they should be designed in such a way that they enable IRS to: (1) gauge its progress toward meeting its 1998 one-stop service goal; (2) identify and correct problems that might impede IRS progress toward the goal; and (3) compare delivery of one-stop service among various taxpayer services available at IRS.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service


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