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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

August 30, 2012
TIGTA - TIGTA - 2012-40
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062

New Hires at the IRS: The Onboarding Process Has Improved, but Additional Steps Should Be Taken to Ensure Employees Have the Tools, Resources, and Knowledge to Succeed

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has improved its process for onboarding new employees, but the new employee experience is not always positive and the process for making improvements should be more coordinated, according to a new report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS requested TIGTA’s review of its year-long “onboarding process.” TIGTA’s overall objective was to determine whether the IRS’s onboarding program was appropriately integrating new employees for positions in mission-critical occupations into their workforce to become productive employees as quickly as possible.

The IRS would like new employees to have a consistently positive experience during their first year with the IRS. To help managers make this a reality, the IRS developed guidance (a toolkit and website) that incorporates industry best practices for effectively integrating new employees into the IRS.

While the IRS has taken steps to make the new employee experience positive, managers that TIGTA interviewed were not following best practices identified in the comprehensive guidance the IRS developed for them. As a result, some best practices that would help new employees feel welcome and help them become more productive were not fully implemented. For example, one-quarter of the new employees TIGTA contacted were not assigned a coach or mentor when they arrived, and approximately 29 percent stated that the onboarding experience did not accelerate their ability to reach full productivity.

“One of the major challenges facing the IRS involves the recruitment and replacement of skilled workers,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Improvements to the onboarding process would reduce the substantial cost of replacing employees who leave the IRS and would help the IRS meet its mission by ensuring employees quickly become productive.”

To improve, the IRS must obtain feedback from new employees. While the IRS and the Department of the Treasury use questionnaires to obtain input from new employees, these questionnaires do not address a new employee’s entire first year, and existing measures would not help the IRS identify specific areas of concern. Also, the IRS does not have a documented onboarding strategy that would help it tie together actions being taken to study and improve the new employee experience.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS Human Capital Officer develop an agency-wide onboarding strategy with components that include a checklist to be completed by managers with step-by-step guidance that should be completed during the onboarding process. The strategy should include the establishment of a process to collect feedback from managers on how the onboarding process could be improved, and additional measures and analyses to evaluate the onboarding process. IRS management agreed with the recommendation and responded that efforts are underway to convene an IRS team to develop a corporate IRS onboarding strategy.


Read the report.


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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