Tax Systems Modernization:

Concerns Over Security and Privacy Elements of the Systems Architecture

IMTEC-92-63: Published: Sep 21, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1992.

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Howard G. Rhile, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO continued to evaluate security and privacy elements of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Tax Systems Modernization program, focusing on: (1) the system's security architecture; and (2) IRS efforts to incorporate features to protect the privacy of taxpayer information.

GAO found that: (1) the security architecture did not describe how taxpayer information and other data would be processed during recovery from a major disaster; (2) the security architecture does not specify how user identification codes and user profiles will be managed; (3) a lack of independence exists among individuals and organizations responsible for administering the security program, developing the software, and ensuring the quality of the software; (4) no organization or person is responsible for incorporating privacy protection features; and (5) IRS officials agreed with the concerns and identified actions that were planned or under way to address them.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS separated the roles of security administrators and software developers, and established an Office of Privacy.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, as Chair of the IRS Executive Committee, should separate the security administrators' and software developers' roles, and designate responsibility for protecting the privacy of taxpayer information.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The recommendations were completed in a timely manner.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish a deadline for resolving these concerns.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service


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