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IRS tallies up challenges

As tax-filing season draws to a close, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner told a House oversight committee Monday that the IRS has made great strides but that future improvements depend on the tax agency carrying out its modernization plan.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said, however, that the project is high-risk. "Replacing virtually the entire technology infrastructure in the next 10 years while also delivering short-term service improvements demanded by taxpayers, employees and the Congress remains an enormous challenge fraught with risk," Rossotti said. "We have no choice; we must move ahead for the good of America’s taxpayers."

The IRS has been able to make incremental progress, but true change will require long-term modernization of the tax service, he said.

"The IRS core data systems that record taxpayers’ tax accounts are fundamentally deficient. The IRS will never be able to perform its mission without replacing these systems.. The solution is to modernize the IRS to do things more efficiently and effectively," Rossotti said during testimony before the House Government Reform Committee’s Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

Unlike previous appearances before lawmakers, Rossotti said that the IRS now has a real plan that lays out how modernization will take place. That plan is embodied in a strategic plan approved by the IRS Oversight Board in January as well as in the IRS enterprise architecture.

Implementing that plan is going to take long-term commitment, Larry Levitan, chairman of the IRS Oversight Board, said at the hearing Monday. The board is asking Congress to put $1 billion into the IRS Information Technology Investment Account over two years — $450 million for fiscal 2002 and $550 million for fiscal 2003. But within a few years, the IRS will need as much as $700 million put into that account for several years. The overall modernization will take as long as a decade to complete, Levitan testified.

The Bush administration has said it will ask for about $400 million for IRS modernization.

Meanwhile, IRS officials said that they have taken steps to ensure that taxpayer data filed electronically is safe. Robert Dacey, the General Accounting Office’s director for information security issues, said that the IRS corrected several previously reported weaknesses and is implementing a computer security management program that should help the IRS manage risk.

Dorobek is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 03, 2001


This is crazy!! More and more of our tax dollars spent in order to make the collecting of our hard-earned money easier. When will this Nation wake up to the fact that our tax system has made slaves of us all?!?

-- Pat Rodgers (, April 04, 2001.

That's not the only thing that's crazy about the IRS. Consider also that Commissar Rossotti has been invited to four different symposia over the past year or so to refute the findings of some serious tax law researchers. The work has found, among other things, that the 16th Amendment was not ratified, the tax law as written does not apply to most US citizens living and working in the US and that US citizens living and working in the US are not subject to withholding. There is more. Neither Rossotti nor any other government representative saw fit to attend the symposia. Now congress is holding a hearing about what to do re these upstarts who want answers to civil questions. Alas the organization (We The People Foundation) which has been seeking the answers is excluded! But, it is holding a press conference outside the closed meeting room, that is unless the Gestapo interferes.

Also note that Rossotti, a holdover from the Clinton regime, has what would seem to most folks conflict of interest. In the much publicized recent case of Paul O'Neill's appointment as Treasury Secretary, he was pressured into divesting himself of his stock and options in Alcoa Corp. No such concern about conflict of interest, or appearnce of same, seems to apply to Rossotti who owns millions of dollars of stock in American Management Systems, a company which also does millions of dollars of contract work for the very agency he heads! But its OK he does his best to avoid even the appearance of conflict. He said so himself

-- Warren Ketler (, April 04, 2001.

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