Computer Support for Tax Processing Needs Continuing IRS Attention

Gao ID: T-IMTEC-87-1 February 6, 1987

GAO testified on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) computer systems' adequacy in processing tax returns in the present filing season and in the future. GAO found that: (1) IRS ordered new front-end processors that were more reliable and could meet short-term work-load requirements; (2) IRS has made progress toward solving its hardware problem and has agreed with the prime contractor that the software needs redesign; (3) the redesign will delay the system's acceptance testing until June 1987 and installation until September 1988; (4) IRS is developing a more thorough contingency plan to ensure a reasonable and swift continuity of data processing support if computers experience extended periods of downtime; and (5) the delay in replacing the processors will result in decreased production and increased costs of up to $1 million. GAO also found that: (1) IRS will begin full monitoring of computer performance by June 1987 and will convene an executive task force to oversee the implementation of efficiency improvement initiatives; (2) the task force will not oversee the realignment of work loads among the service centers until 1989 and 1990; and (3) IRS is developing a preliminary design concept, an acquisition strategy, a transition plan, and a management plan in an effort to redesign the tax processing system for the 1990s and beyond. GAO noted that periods of computer downtime and operational problems in IRS service centers have not significantly affected the 1987 tax-filing season; however, IRS has yet to receive and process the majority of tax returns.

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