TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

VIDEO REVIEW PROCESSES HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED;
HOWEVER, THOSE PROCESSES CAN BE STRENGTHENED

Final Report issued on June 28, 2019

Highlights of Reference Number:  2019-10-037 to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

The IRS Communications and Liaison Division connects the IRS to the American taxpayer by working with external audiences to enhance the public’s understanding of the IRS and its mission, programs, and policies.  The Division’s services allow the IRS to reach a wide variety of audiences through social media engagements, the IRS Video Portal, and YouTube video content.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

In February 2013, the IRS created the Service‑Wide Video Editorial Board (SVEB) to review and approve all video projects planned throughout the IRS.  In addition, each appropriations law from Fiscal Years 2014 through 2018 states that no IRS funds may be used to make a video unless the SVEB determines in advance that making the video is appropriate, taking into account the cost, topic, tone, and purpose of the video.

This audit was initiated to evaluate the costs and impact of IRS video projects, and determine if the policies for reviewing content and requesting prior approval are being followed.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

The IRS implemented controls to ensure that no funds made available to the IRS are spent on video productions unless the SVEB, administered by the Communications and Liaison’s Visual Education Communications Branch, determines in advance that making the video is appropriate.

TIGTA determined that IRS business units are adhering to the SVEB review process and are not producing videos outside established procedures.  In addition, approval processes take into account the projects’ estimated cost, topic, tone, and purpose.  From October 1, 2015, through March 31, 2018, the SVEB reviewed 366 video project requests with estimated production costs of $873,200.

In addition, TIGTA determined that IRS video projects reach a significant number of employees and taxpayers.  For example, videos available to employees and taxpayers have been viewed more than 5 million times.  Additionally, the videos posted on IRS YouTube channels have more than 13 million views, and these channels have almost 30,000 subscribers.

However, TIGTA’s review of a judgmental sample of 36 approved video requests and associated documentation found that documentation of SVEB approvals and actual production costs could be strengthened.  Of the 36 video projects reviewed, three did not have documentation of all required approvals, and the IRS could provide documentation of actual production costs for only 17 of the video projects.  In addition, TIGTA was unable to determine whether six projects were approved by the SVEB prior to production because the actual production dates were not documented.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

TIGTA recommended that the Chief, Communications and Liaison, ensure that sufficient documentation related to approvals, actual production dates, and actual costs is maintained for each approved video project request.

In their response, IRS management agreed with the recommendations and plans to automate the request process to ensure that proper supporting documentation is maintained.

READ THE FULL REPORT

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

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2019reports/201910037fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

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

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