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IRS Oversight Board Reviews IRS Plans for Training and Education

(Washington, DC) The IRS Oversight Board met with IRS executives and human resource directors on June 14, 2012 to discuss the agency’s approach to train and educate IRS employees. The Board has a statutory responsibility to review operational functions of the IRS, including plans for training and education.

IRS executives told the Board that over the last four years, IRS training has focused on creating efficiencies through technology, leveraging data analytics, and positioning the workforce to address the challenges of a global economy.

The IRS reported that it has improved training content and delivers training more efficiently using technology and pooling resources across divisions. The agency is focusing on skills that help employees learn targeted training over time with practical experience in between. This new approach leads to improved case work quality and enhances the learning experience. The IRS’ efforts proved successful when evaluated using the Kirkpatrick Method of Evaluation at Level III. This widely-accepted evaluation approach determines how much training has impacted behavior in the workplace.

The IRS demonstrated their training approaches with video examples and gave the Board the opportunity to interview a newly-trained revenue agent and his supervisor to learn about his positive training experience.

The Board commended the IRS for using technology to reduce costs while increasing training opportunities for employees by 25 percent. “The IRS’ effort to expand training, decrease costs, and increase effectiveness represents significant progress,” said IRS Oversight Board member and employee representative Bob Tobias. “The level of achievement indicated by applying the Kirkpatrick Method distinguishes IRS’ success among federal agencies.”

One of the IRS’ educational goals is to provide training that leads to employees being recognized as knowledgeable, competent professionals. To fulfill this goal, the agency provides career development assistance for employees, coaching and mentoring to increase employee effectiveness, and development of leadership competencies to create a service-wide pipeline of future leaders. The IRS has received several awards for its leadership development strategies. 

“As the tax code continues to become increasing complex, it is critical that the IRS trains its employees to help taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations. The IRS has made significant progress since the Board’s last comprehensive review. There is a focus on creating new capabilities and expanding internal communication efforts. The current environment of continuous improvement and successful collaboration among divisions can be directly attributed to the leadership of the IRS and its commitment to make it happen for employees, but ultimately for taxpayers,” said IRS Oversight Board Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr.

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