TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

Fiscal Year 2019 Digital Accountability and Transparency Act Reporting Compliance

Final Report issued on November 7, 2019

Highlights of Reference Number:  2020-10-003 to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) requires Federal agencies, including the IRS, to disclose direct expenditures and link Federal contract, loan, and grant spending information to Federal agency programs.  Effective implementation of the DATA Act is intended to provide consistent and reliable Governmentwide Federal agency spending data that are available to taxpayers at USAspending.gov.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

The DATA Act requires TIGTA, in coordination with the Treasury Office of Inspector General, to review a statistically valid sample of financial and award data and assess 1) the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and quality of those sample transactions and 2) the use of the Governmentwide financial data standards.  This report is the result of TIGTA’s review of the IRS’s DATA Act submission of Fiscal Year 2019 first quarter spending data.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

The IRS submitted its Fiscal Year 2019 first quarter spending data by March 2019, as required, for publication on USAspending.gov.  Based on a standardized methodology used across Offices of Inspectors General, the IRS received the highest of three possible ratings for overall data quality.  However, TIGTA determined that the quality of the spending data, specifically the award (procurement) attribute data, continues to need improvement.  TIGTA’s review of 86 sample transactions (of the 234 transactions reviewed Treasury-wide) found that additional improvements are needed to ensure the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and overall quality of the data submitted.

The 86 sample transactions were comprised of 3,576 applicable data elements.  TIGTA determined that 147 (4 percent) of the applicable data elements were incomplete and 440 (12 percent) of the applicable data elements were inaccurate.  In addition, 300 (8 percent) of the applicable data elements were untimely.

The data quality issues were generally attributable to inconsistencies in interpretation of DATA Act element definitions by contracting officers and a lack of comprehensive quality review processes designed to ensure that contract attribute information is accurately entered into internal and external systems for DATA Act reporting.

In addition, the IRS was substantially compliant in implementing the Governmentwide financial data standards, and the IRS has taken a number of actions to improve internal controls related to DATA Act reporting since our previous review.  However, due to the timing of the IRS’s implementation of some actions, TIGTA will be unable to confirm their impact until our final mandatory DATA Act audit scheduled for completion in November 2021.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

TIGTA recommended that the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief, Procurement, jointly
establish procedures to guide the performance of planned quality assurance reviews, such as how frequently the reviews will be performed and how the sample size will be determined, and initiate the reviews.

In their response, IRS management agreed with our recommendation and plans to develop and initiate a quality assurance process.

 

READ THE FULL REPORT

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

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2020reports/202010003fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

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

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