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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


November 14, 2013
TIGTA - 2013-43
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

IRS Physical Security Risk Assessment Program Needs Improvement

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should take additional steps to improve security at some of its facilities, a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) concludes.

The IRS is required to conduct comprehensive and timely risk assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities in physical security. The overall objective of this review was to determine whether physical security risk assessments were conducted as required at all IRS facilities.

TIGTA identified deficiencies in the Physical Security Risk Assessment Program and found that most but not all IRS facilities received risk assessments as required. As a result, the IRS may have security vulnerabilities that are not identified and addressed in a timely manner, thereby placing IRS employees and taxpayers at risk.

While the IRS completed risk assessments at nearly all of its facilities, it did not review 14 facilities. Five of those facilities remained open as of calendar year 2013 and the other nine facilities were closed prior to calendar year 2013. In addition, the IRS did not conduct risk assessments at 49 other facilities that were not specifically occupied by IRS employees but were located in or adjacent to IRS facilities. These 49 facilities, which included childcare centers, parking lots and garages, storage units, and a credit union, are not specifically occupied by IRS employees. The IRS stated that security at those buildings were the responsibility of the Federal Protective Service but did not provide evidence that that the facilities received a risk assessment.

Further, completed risk assessments prepared by the IRS identified numerous needs for additional security countermeasures, such as posting signs advising of video surveillance or relocating walls to allow security guards to see visitors entering the facility. However, TIGTA found that some countermeasures were not acted upon. The IRS cited resource constraints as a reason that countermeasures were not implemented.

TIGTA made seven recommendations to the Director, Physical Security and Emergency Preparedness. IRS management agreed with the recommendations and plans to implement corrective actions to address them. For example, the IRS plans to ensure that inventory records include all relevant information and develop a process to ensure that required countermeasures are in place and functioning at all Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

Read the report.

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Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.

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