GAO Reports  
AIMD/GGD-98-54 February 24, 1998

Tax Systems Modernization: Blueprint Is A Good Start But
Not Yet Sufficiently Complete To Build or Acquire Systems

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the modernization blueprint that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prepared pursuant to the conference report accompanying the fiscal year 1997 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act.

GAO noted that: (1) IRS' May 15, 1997, modernization blueprint is a good first step and provides a solid foundation from which to determine precise business requirements, a complete target architecture, and a discipline set of processes and detailed plans for validating, implementing, and enforcing the architecture; (2) similarly, the blueprint's business requirements specify needed improvements in such areas as financial management, and the architecture and sequencing plan include several positive attributes, including traceability between business requirements and systems and high-level descriptions of data and security subarchitectures; (3) however, the blueprint is not yet complete and does not provide sufficient detail and precision for building or acquiring new systems; (4) in particular, IRS' systems life cycle (SLC) does not define in sufficient detail any of the SLC processes needed to manage technology investments; (5) as a result, IRS does not yet know how systems will actually be designed, developed, tested, or acquired; how compliance with standards will be assessed and ensured; how progress on projects will be determined; or how key SLC products will be validated; (6) additionally, IRS plans for each of the three remaining blueprint components--business requirements, architecture, and sequencing plan--to include four levels of progressively greater detail; (7) as of May 15, 1997, IRS had completed the first two levels; (8) as a result, information that is critical to effective and efficient systems modernization is not yet known, essential decisions have not yet been made, and needed actions have not yet been taken; (9) IRS' Chief Information Officer (CIO) has acknowledged that essential elements are missing from the May 15, 1997, blueprint, and stated that he has begun addressing these voids; (10) however, even though IRS, has given the CIO increased responsibility and accountability for managing and controlling systems development, acquisition, and maintenance, neither the CIO nor any other IRS organizational entity has budgetary and organizational authority over all IRS systems activities; and (11) as a result, it is unlikely that IRS will be able to institutionally implement and enforce its modernization blueprint once it is completed.

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