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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

September 20, 2011
TIGTA - 2011-57
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500

ITIGTA: IRS2GO Smartphone Application Is Secure

Washington – The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) IRS2GO mobile application for the Apple iPhone® and the Google Android® smartphones is secure, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS2GO application is the first mobile application developed by the IRS. It allows users to check the status of their tax refunds and receive tax tips. Since its release on January 20, 2011, 147,205 iPhone users and 178,773 Android users have downloaded the mobile application.

TIGTA reviewed whether the IRS adequately tested and secured the IRS2GO smartphone application.

TIGTA found that the IRS2GO application adequately secures data communications and does not store sensitive or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as Social Security Numbers on smartphones. However, the IRS did not follow appropriate processes for using a programming language that had not been approved by IRS information technology management and open-source software during the software development. The IRS said it made a risk-based decision not to pursue waivers in consideration of time constraints for the project.

TIGTA also found that the IRS did not comply with Office of Management and Budget Circular A-130, which requires senior officials to approve the application before its public release.

“The IRS is to be commended for using technology to make tax information more accessible to taxpayers,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. However, I am troubled that the IRS took some shortcuts in developing the application. While no significant security problems were identified, development of future smartphone applications should follow approved processes to avoid introducing unnecessary risk into the development process.”

TIGTA recommended that the IRS follow software development processes and comply with policies when developing new smartphone applications. IRS officials agreed with the recommendations.

Read the report.


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