Computer Capacity

IRS Must Better Estimate Its Computer Resource Needs Gao ID: IMTEC-87-5BR November 3, 1986

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) determined the status and progress of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Capacity Enhancement for the Processing System (CEPS) procurement; and (2) analyzed the need for and timing of CEPS, which IRS designed to upgrade or replace its large mainframe computers.

IRS believed that, with CEPS, its existing mainframe computers would have sufficient capacity to process taxpayer information and update computer files beyond 1989. IRS later decided to postpone upgrading and identified a series of initiatives which it felt would extend the existing mainframe computers' usefulness. GAO found that the Department of the Treasury endorsed the IRS decision to abandon CEPS in favor of: (1) adopting the initiatives; and (2) combining the procurement strategy of CEPS with the planned Tax System Redesign (TSR). GAO believes that: (1) the existing mainframes will have the capacity to handle IRS tax processing work loads through at least mid-1991, assuming that no large unexpected increase in work loads occurs and IRS effectively carries out its planned initiatives; (2) the IRS initiative to constrain annual work-load growth to 8 or 10 percent could be difficult to achieve because IRS plans to install new equipment and introduce new on-line applications that could increase demand for tax account information; and (3) if IRS does not successfully implement its initiatives, it could experience capacity problems at its larger service centers as early as mid-1988. GAO also believes that: (1) without a work-load analysis and a continuing analysis of current system utilization, IRS will not have adequate assurance that its initiatives are working and could unexpectedly find itself short of computer capacity when it implements TSR; and (2) such an unexpected shortage could have a devastating impact on operations, as was evidenced in the 1985 tax filing year.


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