Summary and Major Recommendations

This report is the sixth and final document in a series begun by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council in 1990 at the request of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The purpose of the series has been to review the IRS’s Tax Systems Modernization (TSM) effort. Like its predecessors, this report draws on IRS documents, agency briefings, follow-up meetings of committee subgroups, committee members’ expertise, and deliberations.

NEED FOR MODERNIZATION

The IRS is a crucial organization in that it collects the money that fuels the government. Currently, it does this at a relatively low price—about $0.50 per $100.00 collected—in no small part because most taxpayers cooperate voluntarily in carrying out the responsibilities that U.S. tax laws impose on them. Moreover, the collection of taxes forms one of the primary points of interaction between most citizens and the federal government. Continued cooperation by taxpayers requires that they view the IRS as an efficient organization, capable of expeditiously resolving their problems or answering their questions.

When this committee began studying the IRS, it was clear that the current system was woefully inadequate to provide appropriate levels of taxpayer service and to handle increasing tax processing problems. Inaccurate notices were sent to taxpayers in large numbers, and taxpayers had to communicate with numerous IRS employees over many weeks to resolve relatively simple problems. Many of the problems were caused by antiquated information processing systems, but others were caused by antiquated procedures and practices. The IRS began to halt the erosion of processing capability by modernizing the information processing systems. Over time, the IRS realized that modernization of the entire enterprise was needed to benefit fully from the new capabilities being planned and to enhance taxpayer compliance.

Based on its work of the past 5 years, the committee strongly believes that the modernization of the IRS, including both business re-engineering and advanced automation, is extremely important. Modernization is necessary to improve taxpayer service and to allow the IRS to operate within an increasingly automated society, both of which ultimately ensure that taxes can be collected efficiently. Modern business practices, such as telephone processing centers and on-line data access, must be integrated with time-tested tax processing capabilities to yield an effective overall system.



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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report Summary and Major Recommendations This report is the sixth and final document in a series begun by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council in 1990 at the request of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The purpose of the series has been to review the IRS’s Tax Systems Modernization (TSM) effort. Like its predecessors, this report draws on IRS documents, agency briefings, follow-up meetings of committee subgroups, committee members’ expertise, and deliberations. NEED FOR MODERNIZATION The IRS is a crucial organization in that it collects the money that fuels the government. Currently, it does this at a relatively low price—about $0.50 per $100.00 collected—in no small part because most taxpayers cooperate voluntarily in carrying out the responsibilities that U.S. tax laws impose on them. Moreover, the collection of taxes forms one of the primary points of interaction between most citizens and the federal government. Continued cooperation by taxpayers requires that they view the IRS as an efficient organization, capable of expeditiously resolving their problems or answering their questions. When this committee began studying the IRS, it was clear that the current system was woefully inadequate to provide appropriate levels of taxpayer service and to handle increasing tax processing problems. Inaccurate notices were sent to taxpayers in large numbers, and taxpayers had to communicate with numerous IRS employees over many weeks to resolve relatively simple problems. Many of the problems were caused by antiquated information processing systems, but others were caused by antiquated procedures and practices. The IRS began to halt the erosion of processing capability by modernizing the information processing systems. Over time, the IRS realized that modernization of the entire enterprise was needed to benefit fully from the new capabilities being planned and to enhance taxpayer compliance. Based on its work of the past 5 years, the committee strongly believes that the modernization of the IRS, including both business re-engineering and advanced automation, is extremely important. Modernization is necessary to improve taxpayer service and to allow the IRS to operate within an increasingly automated society, both of which ultimately ensure that taxes can be collected efficiently. Modern business practices, such as telephone processing centers and on-line data access, must be integrated with time-tested tax processing capabilities to yield an effective overall system.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report This process of modernization represents a daunting task that will require many years of dedicated activities to fulfill the mission. Moreover, given the rapid change in technology and the continuing restructuring of government and society, the modernization process must now be thought of as an evolutionary process. For the IRS, this is an effort of unprecedented complexity, requiring it not only to transform daily operations, but also to learn how to design, develop, and integrate sophisticated information processing systems. Large-scale, multiyear development projects require good technology, but more importantly, they require good management practices and procedures. Consequently, the committee has concentrated on recommendations to improve the IRS’s ability to modernize, while monitoring that modernization process. Even if the IRS stumbles and develops a capability that is not exactly right for the purpose intended, it is the committee’s hope that the IRS will learn how to determine that for itself and correct such problems in the future. This report, then, focuses on the overall modernization process of the IRS and provides advice on how to reduce the risks associated with such a large effort. WHAT IS SUCCESS? The committee believes that “success” starts with a concise business vision, a well-organized modernization process, a clear systems architecture, a complete development plan, and a strong set of metrics to determine progress. Without these elements, there will certainly be no success; TSM will degenerate into a collection of individual projects that are poorly integrated, with inadequate privacy and security safeguards, and that may or may not be able to cope with increased tax return processing. If these elements are in place, progress toward specific goals can be measured and technical risks can be reduced, although not eliminated. Throughout the review period, the committee has queried the IRS repeatedly on the status of each of these critical success factors and has suggested improvements as needed in each area. This report culminates that process by discussing where the IRS has indeed achieved success in each of these areas and by providing recommendations on how to improve areas in which success has not yet been achieved. ORGANIZATIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS Much of what the IRS has had to accomplish as part of TSM are basic organizational and attitudinal changes that should have been part of its structure and culture years ago. Although progress may seem slow, the IRS has made significant organizational strides that can improve its ability to manage the development of a large information system. Significant accomplishments, responsive to previous Computer Science and Telecommunications Board committee recommendations, include the following: Distribution of a concise business vision document;1 1   A business vision defines the overall goals of an organization (i.e., how the organization will conduct its business). It does not refer to a distinction between government and commercial organizations.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report An agency-wide evaluation of how best to reorganize processes and people to utilize the capabilities of TSM; Inclusion of its Human Resources organization and the National Treasury Employees Union in the decision-making process; Establishment of the Systems Architects Office; Creation of a Privacy Advocate position, filled by an experienced manager from outside the IRS who now is integrating privacy planning into TSM; Use of “technology refresh” clauses in procurement vehicles to reduce the problem of acquiring obsolete technology; and Creation of the Modernization Executive position and its subsequent elevation to Associate Commissioner to report directly to the Commissioner and have overall responsibility for the success of TSM. Over the past 5 years, the committee has been impressed with the IRS’s willingness to act on managerial or organizational recommendations. Organizational changes creating more direct lines of responsibility have been made. These actions all proved that the IRS was willing to improve itself and to drive those improvements for business, not just for technical, reasons. IRS success in those areas was absolutely necessary, and significant strides have been made. The IRS also has successfully conducted business re-engineering activities aimed at determining the true business needs of its workers. Such an accomplishment is noteworthy and often is lacking in many large developments. However, the valuable information gained from those activities has done little to change the original plans for TSM, which were developed well before the re-engineering exercises. This leads the committee to believe that the IRS development organization is still trying to lead the charge, rather than listening to the end users who were convinced finally to participate. Unfortunately, the momentum generated by such a large project is difficult to control or redirect. TECHNICAL SHORTCOMINGS While making management progress as noted above, the IRS has had serious technical capability problems that, in the committee’s view, cast doubt on the overall success of TSM if they are not solved. TSM represents a huge undertaking, given the size of the system being modernized and the number of processes that will be affected. Unfortunately, although TSM is much needed, the IRS currently does not have a development organization capable of fully meeting the difficult challenge efficiently and effectively. Nonetheless, progress must be ongoing—even if in a less than ideal way. Although the IRS has gained some hands-on experience in the development of large systems, it has shown reluctance to adopt fully—across the entire development organization—industry and government standard practices and approaches that would reduce the risks associated with TSM. Specifically, the IRS has failed to create a concise overall TSM architecture plan that would allow it to establish specific performance goals or metrics against which progress could be measured and reported. A detailed technical under-

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report standing of TSM, as represented by precise technical specifications and accurate system models, has not been demonstrated by the IRS over the past 5 years. Overall, the committee has concluded that there are serious deficiencies in the ability of the IRS in the following technical areas: Technical management, Systems architecture, Process improvement, and Systems security. These deficiencies are addressed by the committee’s recommendations. Since technical management is fundamental to progress in the other three areas, it is singled out for further discussion below. The technical lapses appear symptomatic of a fundamental management problem plaguing TSM. Although the IRS has competent senior operational managers, it lacks senior technical managers, especially senior technical managers with experience in very large systems development. The IRS’s senior operational managers appear committed to TSM’s goals and have the authority to see the plans through. However, they lack the expertise to direct technical implementation, and there is a serious shortage of competent technical management talent. The result is a breakdown between the establishment of goals and plans and their effective implementation (i.e., the integration of operational and technical management). The failure to have developed a systems architecture at this late date, for example, can be attributed to management’s failure to understand fully the importance of this foundation. This failure, in turn, is a result of technical managers either failing to recognize the need for such a basic structure or failing to convey such knowledge to those in a position to set priorities. The committee has emphasized repeatedly that the IRS lacks trained technical leaders with experience in very large systems development activities. This scarcity was not surprising at the outset, of course, since the IRS had never undertaken the development of such a large system. The committee has urged the IRS to hire personnel with the necessary expertise—at senior as well as intermediate management levels—who understand what must be done for TSM to be accomplished. Unfortunately, the progress made in those areas has not kept pace with the increasing demands of TSM. Specifically, the IRS has failed to hire the requisite number of senior technical leaders and to empower those leaders to improve the systems development effort. Most notable has been the failure to grant the Systems Architects Office sufficient authority to fulfill the mission of providing technical guidance across all TSM projects. The IRS has lost, through retirement, both its Chief Information Officer (CIO) and its Associate Commissioner for Modernization in the last 6 months.2 A nationwide search is under way for a CIO. The committee congratulates the IRS for this approach and strongly urges that special steps be taken to develop a compensation package or contract sufficient to attract a high-caliber, trained, experienced manager of large systems from the private sector, who would be interested in the challenges provided by TSM.3 2   The Chief Information Officer and Associate Commissioner define the top of the technical and operational TSM hierarchies, respectively. 3   Comments from the Commissioner and Associate Commissioner on November 29, 1995, at a meeting with the committee chair and another committee member suggest that such steps were initiated.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report The committee has urged the acquisition of senior leadership in project management as well. There are experienced senior technical project managers in other parts of government, especially the Department of Defense, but no such talent has been hired by the IRS. A lack of technical leadership has caused IRS developers to try to improve their own processes, while sticking to schedules and budgets that were developed without their involvement. The committee has visited satellite offices where it reviewed project developments and met talented, dedicated employees.4 However, in the absence of standards from headquarters, these field office employees are creating their own. Without the acquisition of strong senior leadership and some trained, experienced technical middle managers, TSM will produce far less improvement than desired. There may be progress in implementing individual projects, but the IRS will not effectively achieve the goals of its business vision, and what is achieved will come at a high price. MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS Although progress has been made by the IRS in areas such as organization, management control mechanisms, business planning, and privacy, the overall technical achievements have not been equal in number or magnitude. The IRS must implement the following recommendations immediately and forcefully; otherwise the goals of the TSM effort are in serious jeopardy: Recommendation 1. Acquire more technical management expertise, through both hiring and contracting, starting with a highly qualified Chief Information Officer to fill the vacant position. Recommendation 2. Effectively integrate operational and technical goals by developing a proper set of metrics to measure performance. Recommendation 3. Develop an adequate architectural definition and design, led by the Systems Architects Office and enforced by a strong set of interface specifications for key applications or systems, and a process for maintaining them properly. Recommendation 4. Significantly increase the scope, level of effort, management attention, and tools devoted to security development. Recommendation 5. Implement an overall process improvement plan. Specifically, require mature software and systems development processes across the entire development organization within 2 years, reaching maturity level 2 on the Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM)5 and maturity 4   An example is the meeting between the Architecture/Software Subcommittee and the IRS on June 27, 1995, in Dallas, Texas. 5   The Capability Maturity Model for Software was developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University as a model and method for assessing the software development capabilities of an organization. See Paulk, Mark, et al. 1993. A Capability Maturity Model for Software. CMU/SEI-91-TR-24, ADA 263403, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., February.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report level 2 on the most pertinent process areas of the Industrial Collaboration Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model.6 Recommendation 6. Focus efforts on the Integrated Case Processing (ICP) project, applying the best talent within the IRS, to demonstrate a mature development ability, to develop processes and procedures for all IRS projects, and to determine the long-term needs of the re-engineered IRS.7 Furthermore, TSM funding for projects that do not support the focus project directly should be reduced until definite improvement is shown. If these recommendations are not followed, the committee believes that the TSM effort will fail to realize most of the goals defined by the IRS business vision. The resulting system will be significantly less effective and efficient in processing tax returns than it could be, will have a higher price tag, and will carry a significantly greater risk of violating taxpayer privacy. If the IRS is unable to satisfy the requirements represented by the recommendations, it may be necessary to proceed along a different route. For example, it may be necessary to abandon the TSM effort as it currently stands, in which projects are lumped together within a single budget, and instead force each project to defend its own budgetary existence. That is, rather than letting the IRS determine the prioritization of projects based on internal criteria, each project would be scrutinized by oversight organizations and analyzed according to external criteria. This is not the optimum solution, but it may be necessary if the IRS is unable to manage TSM in a way consistent with the recommendations stated above. Another alternative would be to contract management of all TSM developments to another federal agency such as the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In such an arrangement, the IRS would define the requirements and acceptance criteria for all applications and systems, while the other agency managed the development activities, including any development performed by contractors. This would allow the IRS to concentrate on modernizing its operations, without having to develop the supporting applications and systems itself. This arrangement would, of course, reduce the ability of the IRS to enhance or upgrade the completed system in the future, without a continued partnership. Such alternatives are pointed out only to illustrate some possible directions for the IRS if it is incapable of solving the critical problems addressed by the committee’s recommendations. The committee believes that the IRS would be served best in the long run by developing its own approach to modernization, which can be achieved by following 6   The Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model was developed by an industrial collaboration as a model and method for assessing the systems engineering capabilities of an organization. See Bate, Roger, and Suzie Garcia et al. 1994. A Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model. CMU/SEI-94-HB-04, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., December. 7   The ICP applications will be used by 56,000 IRS workers and will be the major consumer of data gathered by the Document Processing System (DPS) and stored in the corporate databases. Comments from the Commissioner in late November 1995 suggest that the DPS program may be affected by reductions in TSM appropriations relative to requested levels. The committee was not able to assess the implications of this late-breaking prospect.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report each of the recommendations listed above. However, given the importance of modernizing the IRS, both the IRS and its oversight organizations must be prepared to change course if necessary. Furthermore, in order that money not be expended inefficiently, it may be necessary at this point to reduce TSM budgets associated with large equipment acquisitions until the recommendations are implemented and the IRS has built a technical capability sufficient to complete TSM. The following sections discuss in detail each of the committee’s major recommendations. Additional related recommendations are made in Chapters 2, 3, and 5. Recommendation 1: Acquire More Technical Management Expertise A unique opportunity exists for the IRS to fill the vacant CIO position with an individual whose primary qualifications include an understanding of the technologies involved in TSM (distributed computing, large complex infrastructure change, customer interfacing, and so on). The requirements for the CIO position must include proven successful experience in making process improvements in a large, complex organization. There are very few CIOs in the world with the level of knowledge and experience to handle this position. Recruitment of such an individual will be difficult and will require the use of experienced interviewers, clear requirements, and ample financial rewards. More importantly, the IRS must grant the new CIO the authority needed to do the job; only then will a strong leader be found. Acquisition of the needed expertise cannot be confined to the CIO office alone. The new CIO must actively seek out and develop internal expertise in a way that takes into consideration the need for modern technologies. There are good candidates within the IRS, but they must be discovered and developed. Yet even this is not enough. Experts must be hired from outside the IRS as well, because the need is so great; fortunately, there is a large external pool of talent. Included in this latter group should be individuals who possess expertise in managing the outside contractors who will play a significant role in TSM development. Technical developments require technical leaders. The IRS has a proud tradition of developing its own business leaders, but it cannot develop the level of technical expertise required by TSM without hiring and contracting experienced technical leaders from outside the organization. Recommendation 2: Develop a Proper Set of Performance Goals and Metrics The CIO, working with the Associate Commissioner and all of the technical managers, must set up a planning system with clear performance metrics for TSM. Realistic goals and corresponding metrics must be put in place so that progress as well as success or failure can be measured in understandable terms during both development and deployment. For example, the goal of satisfying 80 percent of all taxpayer inquiries on the first call must be defined precisely, and a way to measure it must be developed. These technical measurements must reflect the business objectives as defined by the users of various system modules. A disciplined approach should involve regular (at least monthly) meetings with top leadership, including the Commissioner.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report Success without development and operational metrics is impossible. A partnership between the IRS and its oversight organizations based on solid metrics is the only way to ensure long-term TSM success. Recommendation 3: Develop an Adequate Architectural Design and Definition Despite almost a decade of activity, the architectural design of TSM either is nonexistent or is hidden in a forest of detail. The IRS must develop a complete, concise architectural definition that can be used by the almost 2,000 IRS developers and their contractors.8 An architecture is more than just a set of documents with many words and pictures. An architecture also includes the critical pieces needed to analyze parts of the system before it is built or while it is being prototyped. Such analysis is critical to the ultimate success of a large system. A comprehensive system model for TSM would allow the type of scientific analysis that is needed to answer key technical questions, before a heavy investment is made in a particular approach. There is no substitute for an adequate architectural definition and system model. If the IRS does not address this issue soon, some very large investments may never yield significant benefits. 8   The Commissioner reported to the chair and another committee member on November 29, 1995, that completion of a new architectural document estimated to be several tens of pages long was anticipated in December 1995. This document was not available to the committee during the review period. The committee has recommended complete and concise architecture documentation from the outset: • “Although the IRS has developed a series of planning documents that adequately address a wide range of TSM issues, the committee believes that the TSM architecture is not yet complete and that a TSM architecture document is needed…. The IRS appears to have developed many of the specific architectures required but has not developed the overall architecture that ties them together…. The committee believes that TSM, because of its long-term schedule, requires an architecture that can make use of changing technologies.” SOURCE: Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1992. Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 12–13. • “The software architect should coordinate efforts with the IRS’s integrated support contractor to produce a high-level description of the TSM system architecture and schedule. These documents should be refined regularly (perhaps quarterly) to include additional levels of detail.” SOURCE: Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1993. “Letter report to Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson,” Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Washington, D.C., July 30, p. 5.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report Recommendation 4: Significantly Increase the Means to Achieve Security The IRS appears to believe that its primary threat is from the unauthorized browsing of tax returns by employees, which can compromise taxpayer privacy. Although this is an important issue, the committee does not believe it is the only threat to the IRS. Specifically, the committee believes that, with TSM, the IRS will be threatened by skilled insiders and outsiders, including individuals, companies, “hacker” groups, and foreign governments, for a wide range of reasons. The threats have always existed, but the continuing advances in computer technology, the universal connectivity planned for TSM, and the lack of an effective TSM security program will increase the opportunity of these groups to exploit IRS vulnerabilities. The IRS needs to expand its concept of the threat. The IRS cannot wait for the commercial sector to solve the most difficult system security problems, nor can it attempt to solve all of the problems on its own. The IRS must adopt a strategy that allows it to minimize risk in the short term, possibly by limiting the functionality deployed in TSM or the access to it, while focusing on long-term solutions that will allow the IRS to use the full capabilities of TSM. To that end, the IRS needs to incorporate strong authentication and communication encryption mechanisms throughout all TSM applications and systems. The IRS has made a good start, developing an adequate security policy using a top-down approach. However, it needs to translate that policy into a detailed set of requirements and then develop components that can be used in all TSM development efforts. This activity is proceeding now, but at too slow a pace compared with application development and with insufficient resources and experience; therefore security measures are not embedded in the design. That is, current projects are being implemented without an overall enterprise-wide security technical framework and review, which almost guarantees inadequate support of security requirements. The IRS needs to acquire, through hiring or contracting, security experts who have experience developing and deploying security solutions for large distributed systems. The IRS must accept the fact that security is a critical criterion for TSM’s success and that security solutions must be demonstrated before new operational risks are accepted. In short, no project should become operational before its security requirements have been satisfied. Recommendation 5: Implement an Overall Process Improvement Plan The IRS needs to prepare an overall process improvement plan covering all systems and software development, both internal and external. The term “process improvement” describes a set of actions taken to improve the skills and knowledge of workers, as well as the quality of the tools, equipment, and methods used by those workers. This plan should explain needed development capability goals for various groups of developers, starting with an assessment of current skills and capabilities. These goals should be aggressive, and progress toward achieving them should be monitored vigorously throughout the management chains of the IRS and its contractors. The IRS should hire key leaders who have experience with similar improvement efforts. These leaders should be empowered to procure personnel by hire or by contract

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report to carry out an effective and accelerated process improvement activity (see discussion of Recommendation 1). Progress in improving development processes and capabilities should be assessed regularly with reference to accepted process capability models. Progress should be reported up through the management chain. Moreover, monitoring should be conducted in cooperation with external oversight organizations to ensure that the IRS is making improvements to its systems and software development processes on a continual, visible basis. Failure to improve at the desired rate should result in quick, effective corrective action. All of these recommendations have been made previously to the IRS by this committee and by other external organizations.9 Unfortunately, the IRS’s response to these recommendations has been disappointing, and there is clearly not enough sense of urgency on its part. Accordingly, the committee’s view must be stated quite bluntly: If the IRS does not begin immediately to improve its development processes, moving to at least Capability Maturity Model level 2 across its entire development organization within 2 years, further investment in TSM should be reduced drastically until such a maturity level is reached. 9   • “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.” SOURCE: Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council. 1994. Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Interim Report. Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Washington, D.C., p. 2. • “[GAO has] identified several government organizations that have adopted CMM and are moving toward higher CMM levels….” SOURCE: General Accounting Office. 1995. Tax Systems Modernization: Management and Technical Weaknesses Must Be Corrected If Modernization Is to Succeed. GAO/AIMD-95–156, General Accounting Office, Washington, D.C., July, p. 39. • “GAO recommends that the Commissioner (1) immediately require IRS’s future software development contractors to have CMM level 2 maturity and (2) by December 31, 1995, take measures that will improve IRS’s software development capability. The specific measures recommended are intended to move IRS to CMM level 2 and include implementing consistent procedures for software requirements management, quality assurance, configuration management, and project planning and tracking.” SOURCE: General Accounting Office. 1995. Tax Systems Modernization: Management and Technical Weaknesses Must Be Corrected If Modernization Is to Succeed. GAO/AIMD-95–156, General Accounting Office, Washington, D.C., July, p. 11.

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report In recommending near-term achievement of CMM level 2, the committee emphasizes that the goal is to achieve and assimilate better practice, not simply to pass a specific test. Recommendation 6: Focus Efforts on the Integrated Case Processing Project The committee strongly recommends that the IRS select a project carefully and make an attempt to drive that project through to completion using the best methods and techniques. Doing so will improve its development capability substantially. Furthermore, TSM funding for projects that do not support the focus project directly should be reduced until definite improvement is shown. The focus project should be driven by and conform to a well-understood and accepted architecture and should make use of the support modules developed by the Infrastructure Task Group. When this project has been completed, an assessment has been conducted, and appropriate changes have been made in the methods, techniques, and support modules, it can become a model for future projects. Perhaps several more projects can then be commissioned for further improvement from this new capability level. From what the committee has seen, the Integrated Case Processing (ICP) project seems the most likely candidate for this effort. ICP forms the basis for the “modern” IRS, in which taxpayer interactions are handled in a timely manner with increased accuracy. The information required by ICP represents a large portion of that stored by the mainframe servers and gathered by the Document Processing System (DPS) and the Electronic Filing Project. Once ICP has proven its value to the IRS through controlled, single-site experimentation, the infrastructure needed to deploy ICP and other TSM applications on a wide scale can be developed. If ICP Version 2 is not done well, other, much larger, TSM projects such as DPS will not do much to change the IRS. NEED FOR A LONG-TERM VIEW The history of the computing industry shows that a project that spans a decade or more will yield a system that is not near the current state of the art. Either TSM is trying to move too far too quickly, or many large and somewhat unrelated projects have been gathered into one gargantuan collection that the IRS calls TSM. The IRS must adopt an incremental approach to improvement and modernization in which future actions are predicated on recent successes. It is important for the IRS to have a view beyond TSM. Modernization should be viewed as a continuing process, rather than a specific project to be undertaken and completed. That is, TSM should be part of an overall “continuous process improvement” program at the IRS. The committee is not saying that the IRS should plan to spend large sums of money for a long period of time. Nevertheless, its focus must be on the long-term, overall objectives of better performance as individual projects are conceived, developed, and deployed, because technology and techniques are constantly changing. Although there are specific TSM goals to accomplish, the IRS must concentrate on the fundamental issues: creating a talented and motivated team capable of developing TSM and carrying modernization forward for the long term; building a basic infrastructure to serve long-term needs;

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Continued Review of the Tax Systems Modernization of the Internal Revenue Service: Final Report and designing an overall, low-risk architecture for modernization. It is important that these longer-range concerns not be ignored in a desire to accomplish immediate goals. More time spent learning the process of modernization will increase the likelihood of a successful TSM program and long-term IRS modernization. Even with such a long-term view, the IRS must also be able to state when it has achieved a specific goal. At that point, funding should be decreased to a level appropriate for maintenance of the systems developed to support that goal. The committee believes that constant high-level attention will be required to keep modernization moving forward and to avoid mistakes or false starts. The committee believes that the Commissioner should have continuing, outside, expert advice on the problems and progress of TSM. Therefore, it strongly recommends that an independent group be formed to report directly to the Commissioner on a regular basis. Furthermore, the IRS must engage in a more constructive partnership with its oversight organizations and work with them to make progress.10 Modernization of the IRS must be accomplished: major change is essential and it must be viewed as the highest-priority undertaking of the IRS. The job must be done, and it must be done right for the IRS to serve the country well. 10   One example may be the relatively new Modernization Management Partnership whose executive steering group is made up of members drawn from the IRS and Department of the Treasury and whose function, in part, is to facilitate the oversight efforts of the Office of Management and Budget, General Services Administration, and General Accounting Office. SOURCE: “Treasury/IRS Modernization Management Partnership,” an internal use memorandum dated April 10, 1995, to the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury from the Assistant Secretary (Management) of Treasury and Chief Financial Officer.