PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, BUTADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS TO THEE-HELP DESK ARE NEEDED TOSUPPORT EXPANDING ELECTRONICPRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Final Report issued on July 28, 2011
Highlights of Reference Number: 2011-40-073to the Internal Revenue Service Commissionerfor the Wage and Investment Division.
IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
Customers who contact the e-help Desk may beexperiencing difficulty registering for e-Services,transmitting an electronically filed tax return, orapplying to be an Electronic Return Originator.Electronic products supported by the e-helpDesk include electronically filed tax returns ande-Services such as the Electronic Federal TaxPayment System and the Central ContractorRegistration. Progress has been made, butadditional improvements to the e-help Desk areneeded to support expanding electronicproducts and services. Improvements neededrelate to the protection of taxpayer data, theprocess of assessing customer satisfaction, andother enhancements that can increaseproductivity and reduce customer burden.
WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
This audit was a follow-up to a prior TIGTAreview to determine whether the InternalRevenue Service (IRS) e-help Desk Program isproviding quality customer service.
WHAT TIGTA FOUND
The IRS continues to recognize the need toprovide assistance to customers usinge-Services. The IRS has addressed theconcerns reported in Fiscal Year 2007 and hasmade improvements to the e-help DeskProgram. Foremost was the establishment ofthe Electronic Products and Services Supportorganization.Using an automated scheduling system couldsave resources and improve the Level ofService. Although the Level of Service is morethan 80 percent, the scheduling process for thee-help Desk is labor intensive and inefficient.Other IRS telephone call sites use theE-Workforce Management (EWFM) System toschedule assistors, which provides automatedtools to forecast, schedule, and track call centerworkload and staffing requirements.
On October 1, 2007, a Customer SatisfactionSurvey was implemented. However, the Surveyresults may not be reliable because the IRScannot validate or verify the sample selectionmethodology and does not include allcustomers. In addition, assistors are oftenaware their calls have been selected for theSurvey. Without reliable information, the IRScannot provide a basis for comparing Programresults with established performance goals.In Fiscal Year 2010, there were 82,235instances in which the assistors did not take therequired steps to protect the confidentially of thetaxpayer information they disclosed. Managersare not holding employees accountable for notfollowing required disclosure procedures.A toll-free telephone line is not available forinternational calls to the e-help Desk.Furthermore, calls to the e-help Desk that arenot serviceable by the e-help Desk areincreasing, which burdens taxpayers and wastesresources.
WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended and the IRS agreed toensure: 1) funding for the implementation of theEWFM System is considered in the annualbudget process; 2) oversight and accountabilityis improved so managers consistently andeffectively complete required evaluative reviewsof assistors; 3) assistors use the electronicversion of the Authentication Disclosure Guide;4) technological upgrades are used to improvethe Survey; 5) all calls are included in thepopulation to be sampled for the Survey; 6) thee-help Desk is considered in any plans the IRShas to fund toll-free service to internationalcallers; and 7) a study is completed to determinewhy the e-help Desk receives unrelated callsand the action needed to reduce these calls.