TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

IMPROVEMENTS IN CONTROLS ARE NEEDED FOR LAPTOP COMPUTERS RECOVERED WHEN EMPLOYEES SEPARATE

Final Report issued on August 10, 2016

Highlights of Reference Number:  2016-10-056 to the Internal Revenue Service Human Capital Officer and Chief Technology Officer.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, more than 4,100 full-time, permanent employees separated from the IRS.  It is important for the IRS to recover computers from separating employees to prevent unauthorized access to taxpayer information and the loss of Government equipment. 

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

The overall objective of this audit was to determine whether IRS management implemented policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that laptop computers are returned when employees separate from the IRS. 

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

While all laptop computers from a random sample of FY 2014 employee separations were returned, the process designed to provide reasonable assurance that laptop computers are returned when employees separate was either not functioning as intended or not always followed.  TIGTA found substantial recordkeeping problems and estimates that IRS separation records concerning the recovery of laptop computers were inaccurate for more than 850 (21 percent) of the more than 4,100 employee separations in FY 2014.

The IRS has designed controls to verify that laptop computers are recovered when employees separate.  The controls include a process in which managers of the separating employees fill out an electronic separation record to document if laptop computers are recovered and Information Technology office officials verify the return of the laptop computers on a separate inventory system. 

However, reconciling separation records with Information Technology office computer inventory records was a lengthy process that included considerable challenges for TIGTA and the IRS.  For example, 18 separation records indicated the separated employees returned their laptop computers when computer inventory records indicated computers were not assigned to the separated employees.  In addition, six separation records indicated that separated employees were not assigned laptop computers when computer inventory records indicated that laptop computers were assigned and returned.  In addition, TIGTA identified one laptop that was returned to the IRS but was not entered back into the IRS’s computer inventory until TIGTA brought it to the IRS’s attention.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

TIGTA recommended that the IRS Human Capital Officer update separating employee clearance guidance, provide training for managers on the updated procedures; and work with Information Technology office management to develop procedures to reconcile and resolve discrepancies between separation records and computer inventory records when employees separate.

In their response, IRS management agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations.  The IRS stated that it has updated separating employee clearance guidance for documenting the return of information technology equipment and provided training, and plans to provide additional guidance updates and training.  Also, the IRS plans to develop standard operating procedures to reconcile and resolve discrepancies between separation records and computer inventory records.

 

READ THE FULL REPORT

To view the report, including the scope, methodology, and full IRS response, go to:

http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2016reports/201610056fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

E-mail Address  /  TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

Website             /  https://www.treasury.gov/tigta