Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines the staffing level for its toll-free telephone customer service operations. GAO found that IRS lacks a long-term telephone customer service goal that reflects the needs of taxpayers and the costs and benefits of meeting that goal. Rather, IRS annually determines the level of funding it will seek for its customer service workforce, using its judgment of how to best balance service and compliance activities. IRS then calculates the level of service that funding levels will provide. This approach is inconsistent with the Government Performance and Results Act and the practice of selected public and private call centers that field questions. IRS recognizes the shortcomings of its personnel management and will include performance measures and goals in its 2002 strategic plan. According to IRS officials, the agency also faces challenges in recruiting, training, retaining, and scheduling customer service representatives. IRS is developing a strategy to address each of these issues.
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