TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL
FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION
The Internal Revenue Service Can Improve Its Capacity and Performance Program to Better Manage the Availability of Its Computer Systems
Reference No. 2001-20-046
Management of the capacity and performance of the Internal Revenue Serviceís (IRS) computer systems is critically important to the IRSí success in providing top quality customer service to taxpayers. To achieve this goal, the IRS is increasingly relying on the ability of its computer systems to provide quick and convenient access to taxpayer information. Therefore, the IRSí capacity and performance management effort must be comprehensive in ensuring that its computer systems have sufficient capacity to process taxpayer information and meet computer systems usersí performance needs.
The objective of this review was to assess the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of the IRSí capacity and performance management program for mainframe and mid-range computer systems. We conducted fieldwork at the IRS National Headquarters; the Martinsburg, Detroit, and Tennessee Computing Centers; the Memphis Customer Service Site; and the former Baltimore District Office.
The IRS has developed a program to adequately manage the capacity and performance of some of its most critical computer systems. However, two areas were identified where the IRS could improve its efforts to better meet the increasing demand being placed on its computer systems.
The Internal Revenue Service Adequately Manages the Capacity and Performance of Its Mainframe Computer Systems
The IRSí program for managing the capacity and performance of its mainframe computer systems includes all of the elements specified for such a program by industry best practices. Collectively, the technical staff of the program has a significant amount of experience with the IRSí complex computer environment. As a result, the IRS is adequately managing the current capacity needs for these computer systems and planning for future capacity needs. The IRS is also actively monitoring the performance of these critical tax processing systems.
A More Comprehensive Effort Is Needed to Effectively Manage the Capacity and Performance of Mid-Range Computer Systems
The IRS does not have a comprehensive program for managing the capacity and performance of its mid-range systems, totaling 628 computers. These systems run many of the IRSí taxpayer programs, including those for electronic filing and identifying taxpayers who are underreporting their taxes. The IRSí program for managing its mid-range systems is primarily focused on analyzing the current utilization rates of a relatively small number of its mid-range systems. Little long-term trending or monitoring occurs, and limited proactive analyses are performed for these computer systems. As a result, the IRS cannot ensure that its mid-range computer systems have adequate capacity. Since the IRS will have spent over $33.7 million by the end of Calendar Year 2000 and plans to spend at least an additional $31.8 million over the next 2 years to upgrade and consolidate its mid-range computer systems, increased capacity and performance analysis of the IRSí mid-range computer systems is needed to ensure that adequate information is available for making acquisition decisions, determining whether current capacity is being used effectively, and identifying whether excess capacity exists.
Comprehensive Guidelines and Best Practices Would Improve Management of Both Mainframe and Mid-Range Computer Systems
The IRS does not have comprehensive documentation of the procedures, methods, and techniques needed to manage the capacity and performance of its mainframe and mid-range computer systems. Such documented guidance is needed for two primary reasons: 1) to capture the technical expertise of the IRSí most experienced mainframe Computer Performance Evaluators, a significant number of whom are or will be eligible to retire within the next 5 years, upon which the success of the IRSí capacity and performance program has in part been based, and (2) to communicate essential technical information to both new and inexperienced mainframe and mid-range computer technical staff. Without this technical documentation of the methods and techniques to be used by the technical staff, the IRS will find it difficult to maintain or expand its capacity and performance management program and to assure that in the future its technical staff will possess the expertise needed to assume system performance activities.
Summary of Recommendations
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) needs to ensure the program for managing the capacity and performance of its mid-range systems is comprehensive and includes a strategy for evaluating all of the IRSí consolidated mid-range systems. Additionally, since the IRS may lose a significant portion of its experienced capacity and performance management staff to retirement over the next 5 years, the CIO should ensure that essential technical information currently being used or needed to monitor the capacity and performance of its mainframe and mid-range computer systems is defined, documented, and communicated to the necessary technical staff. In addition, the CIO should ensure that the Capacity Management Branch (CMB) web site and the information available at the site are adequately publicized throughout the organization.
Managementís Response: The CIO has developed a strategy to manage the capacity and performance issues for the IRSí mid-range computer systems, which includes installing monitoring software on mid-range computer systems to automate data collection and reduce resources needed to manage these systems. In addition, the CIO has identified several field technical staff who can be assigned to support the CMB. However, if reassigning the field technical staff is not enough, the CMB will hire contractors to increase support in critical areas.
The CMB will develop written guidance on procedures, methods, techniques and other information unique to each CMB report, which will be made available on the CMB web site. The CMB will publicize its web site in a variety of ways, including e-mail, IRS publications, placement on IRS web sites, and an awareness campaign.