Technology “will be the game-changer of our future” when it comes to delivering services to taxpayers and enforcement, the top IT official at the IRS predicted.
Chief Information Officer Nancy Sieger noted in her address to the Government Technology & Services Coalition’s IRS Days 2022 that the opening day of filing season this year saw 10 million electronic submissions and 2.2 million receipts within one hour.
The agency also sent out 170 million economic impact payments to taxpayers and had to quickly make changes at the outset of the pandemic to support a 98 percent mobile workforce.
“At IRS it’s all modernization all the time,” Sieger said, stressing the importance of continually challenging the team and customers to be more innovative.
“We need our industry partnerships to help us drive with unprecedented velocity,” she said, as the agency meets the challenge of updating so many important systems. “Like all big IT shops we have legacy systems we’re maintaining; where funding permits, we’re modernizing those… IRS is modernized with a clear vision to where we need to go next.”
Investment in key areas includes moving to the hybrid cloud, standardizing data and access to data, AI and machine learning, IT service management, enterprise case management, and continuing to enhance the agency’s security posture.
“IRS is committed to protecting our networks and our data,” Sieger said, including coordinating with DHS to ensure that IRS is meeting its security commitments. “We take our cybersecurity seriously – regardless of where we are, we want to be in the next place.”
“We have a very robust list of priorities but we have the technologists to do the job,” she said.
Modernizing the agency’s foundational technology structure will in turn lead to an enhanced customer experience and more secure data, and IRS has delivered on its modernization plan commitments thus far. “There’s always more to come,” Sieger added.
Other future agency tech needs include more multilingual support via translation software and venturing “more aggressively” into voice and chat customer assistance.
“We are moving to the cloud; we need to do it quickly,” Sieger said, adding that the agency is “also beginning our journey in IT tech service management so that we have a 360 view of what’s in our environment.”
The CIO emphasized that industry is instrumental to achieving the agency’s tech goals. “Just about all of IRS’ IT success is done in collaboration with our vendor community,” Sieger said.
Acting Chief Procurement Officer Guy Torres said he anticipates the number of awards and actions this year will exceed 2021 as the agency buys commodities and services from pencils to programmers. Fiscal year 2021 saw nearly 7,000 contracting actions worth $3.5 billion, with $1.2 billion of that going to small or disadvantaged businesses.
Recognizing the importance of communicating with industry up front, each year IRS hosts 2-3 industry events and will continue to work with small businesses and the industry liaison to “increase and encourage early engagement” with industry on new contracts.
“It’s essential we target our energies toward innovation,” Torres said, emphasizing that the agency “must continue modernizing our systems.”