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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


November 5, 2014
TIGTA - 2014-40
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

The IRS Could Improve its Inventory Controls Over Wireless Devices, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON – At the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), more than 94 percent of the employees who had BlackBerry® smartphones, cellular phones, or wireless aircard devices were appropriately assigned them; however, the IRS’s system of records designed to document wireless device inventory was not consistently updated as changes occurred, which resulted in almost 57 percent of inventory records being inaccurate.

That is among the findings of a report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

"In Fiscal Year 2013, the IRS spent more than $13.7 million on wireless telecommunication devices and maintained an inventory of more than 49,000 devices that it reported as being in use,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Effective controls over the assignment of and inventory accounting for these devices is important to ensure proper stewardship of Government funds."

The overall objective of TIGTA’s review was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the IRS’s inventory control for wireless aircards, cellular phones, and BlackBerry smartphone devices. Federal guidance requires the IRS to assess current device inventories and usage and establish controls to ensure that the IRS is not paying for unused or underutilized devices.

TIGTA found that inventory controls over wireless devices could be improved. Ineffective inventory controls resulted in unsupported and duplicate service fees. Specifically, according to monthly vendor billing statements, TIGTA found that the IRS paid monthly service fees for almost 6,800 wireless devices that were not captured in inventory records and for more than 700 employees who had multiple wireless devices that perform the same function. Due to weaknesses in controls, including the thousands of unaccounted-for devices, the IRS risks paying service fees for devices that are not authorized, not in use, or duplicative.

TIGTA made several recommendations to improve IRS inventory controls. For example, TIGTA recommended that the IRS perform an inventory reconciliation to ensure that records reflect the correct status of each device. TIGTA also recommended that the IRS implement an inventory process for wireless pagers and consider conducting reconciliations of monthly billing statements to identify users with service fees for devices not in inventory. In their response, IRS management agreed with the recommendations and stated that they plan to take corrective actions contingent upon funding availability.

Read the report.

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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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