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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Interim Report
In the sections that follow, the committee details its specific concerns and recommendations. Here it summarizes the most critical issues and recommendations:
In response to congressional funding cuts, the IRS must prioritize and tighten TSM project plans. The total program must be leaner for the coming year, especially if funding is not restored to requested levels. The business vision document should be used as a test for inclusion of projects in the “tightened” TSM plan. Furthermore, some near-term and highly visible TSM deliverables are needed to provide clear evidence that the IRS is capable of progress toward TSM objectives.
The IRS must develop a clear and concise software structural description for TSM that defines its fundamental capabilities, the overall design of key components, and the relationship between critical modules. That description must be used as the basis for all technical development decisions.
Compared to other government agencies, the IRS’s systems development capability is still largely dated and rudimentary. Furthermore, the IRS’s efforts to improve its system development capability may not be able to keep up with changes in the field or the projected pace of TSM development. The IRS’s top managers appear to recognize this problem, but they need to prepare an overall process improvement plan that is closely coordinated with TSM schedules and contracts. They also need to hire key experienced development leaders and begin the improvement process immediately.
The IRS has made significant progress with regard to the establishment of the privacy advocate’s office. The committee recommends that the IRS continue to enhance safeguards to privacy through the use of TSM capabilities. Furthermore, the IRS could assume a leadership role among federal agencies regarding the protection of information and personal privacy.
Recognizing that the security architecture is incomplete, the committee recommends that senior IRS business managers direct and support a review of all in-place projects as well as projects currently being developed with regard to their security requirements and mechanisms. These evaluations will prevent expensive future program modifications.
The Concept of Operations, Business Master Plan, Design Master Plan, and Integrated Transition Plan/Schedule must be made more precise during the current revision period by removing duplication, blending the plans from top to bottom, and matching them with the major goals in the business vision.
The committee emphasizes that comments and recommendations that appear to be critical of the IRS and TSM should not be interpreted as a diminution of the committee’s strong and continued support for TSM. Rather, they should be interpreted as a continuing endorsement of TSM and as an expression of the committee’s concern that TSM be moved forward as rapidly as possible so as to achieve the greatest degree of functionality possible within the current time and budget constraints.
The remainder of this report discusses the following topics: