Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue
Service's (IRS) development and use of interactive telephone systems to
improve customer service, focusing on IRS efforts to: (1) make the phone
systems easy to use; (2) protect taxpayer data; and (3) assign owners
that would provide developers with systems requirements information.
GAO found that: (1) successful IRS implementation of interactive
telephone systems is critical to improving IRS customer service, since
IRS expects taxpayer telephone assistance to double as IRS tries moves
towards a paperless system; (2) three new IRS phone systems are not
user-friendly which may cause taxpayers to use the new systems less; (3)
the new phone systems' routing system has too many menu options and does
not permit callers to return to the main menu if necessary; (4) IRS is
aware of the systems' menu problem, but it believes the multiple options
are necessary because tax issues are complex; (5) IRS is considering
providing multiple toll-free numbers to alleviate its menu problem, but
providing advance instructions on the menu options may be more
cost-effective; (6) IRS has complied with Department of the Treasury and
IRS security requirements to protect taxpayer data and is investigating
ways to increase security as taxpayers gain greater access to their tax
accounts; (7) IRS process owners have been designated late and have not
provided all requirements information needed for the phone systems'
development; and (8) an IRS cost-benefit analysis has shown that the
phone systems' benefit-to-cost ratio is three to one.
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