According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), one of the five IT systems the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses for collecting taxes, distributing refunds, and other objectives may not be complete until 2030.

The system, meant as a replacement for a 60-year-old system, is only on track to replace core functions – despite meeting performance goals IRS set for fiscal years (FY) 2019 and 2020.

“This is troubling because it’s getting harder to find people who can work on the outdated computer language of the aging system,” GAO wrote. “The system serves as IRS’s key data source for individual tax accounts.”

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IRS reported to GAO that most the three investments in development were within 10 percent of performance goals, which the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) considers to not be significant. The two investments in operations and maintenance, IRS reported that one investment met all five operational performance goals established by the agency for FY2019 and FY2020. Meanwhile, the other one met three of five goals in FY2019 and four of the five in FY2020.

“For its agency-wide modernization plan, IRS reported completing most of its activities intended for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 within cost and on or ahead of schedule,” GAO wrote. “The updated plan identified 59 activities for completion in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.”

By the end of FY2-20, 54 of 59 activities were completed early or on schedule, with the remaining five completed three to seven months later than initially planned.

IRS has spent $9 million less than the $300 million planned for FY2019 and $19.9 million less than the $271 million planned for FY2020,

In a 2018 report, GAO made 21 recommendations for IRS to address modernization of its systems. The agency reported addressing 17 of them and provided evidence of actions it had taken to address two of the remaining four recommendations. GAO has determined that IRS has implemented one of the recommendations.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.