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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

February 19, 2013
TIGTA - 2013-05
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062

Millions Wasted at IRS on BlackBerry Devices and Aircards, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid approximately $1.1 million during Fiscal Year 2011 for 13,878 aircards and 754 BlackBerrys that were not used for periods of three months to one year, according to a report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

In addition, TIGTA auditors found that 2,560 IRS employees may have been assigned an aircard or BlackBerry without required management approval. These devices cost the IRS more than $950,000 in Fiscal Year 2011, or about $4.8 million over five years. Overall, process improvements can result in cost savings totaling approximately $5.9 million over five years.

As part of the audit, TIGTA identified 45 aircards and 68 BlackBerrys that were not used at all for the entire 12 months of the fiscal year.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS develop processes to periodically evaluate job series profiled for aircards and BlackBerrys and ensure that managerial approval of devices is based on business need; establish a pooling policy for aircards; review its inventory records to identify devices shown as assigned to employees without proper management approval; develop a formalized process to identify BlackBerrys with no usage; and identify whether BlackBerrys with no data use could be replaced with a lower costing cellular telephone.

In their response, IRS management agreed with two of TIGTA's six recommendations. IRS management agreed to establish a policy to periodically evaluate the job series profiled for aircards and BlackBerrys and agreed to formally document their process to monitor BlackBerrys with no usage. Although IRS management disagreed with TIGTA's recommendation to establish a pooling policy for aircards, they agreed to conduct a business assessment to determine if a shared aircard policy would be effective.

IRS management disagreed with TIGTA's three remaining recommendations, citing previously existing procedures. Based on the large number of unapproved and unused devices identified during the audit, TIGTA believes the IRS should take action to enhance its existing controls.

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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