Tax Administration:

Workforce Planning Needs Further Development for IRS's Taxpayer Education and Communication Unit

GAO-03-711: Published: May 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 2003.

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Strategic workforce planning helps ensure that agencies have the right people with the right skills in the right positions to carry out the agency mission both in the present and future. The Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Taxpayer Education and Communication (TEC) unit within its Small Business and Self- Employed Division assists some 45 million small business and self-employed taxpayers. Given the number of taxpayers it is to assist and changes in its priorities and strategies, GAO was asked to determine whether TEC has a workforce plan that conforms to critical elements for what should be in a plan and how it should be developed and implemented.

Although it has existed for more than 2-and-a-half years, TEC does not have a strategic workforce plan that includes certain critical elements. For example, it has not identified gaps between the number, skills, and locations of its current workforce and the workforce it will need in the future, and the strategies to fill gaps. Such a workforce plan for TEC could be developed by IRS, the Small Business and Self-Employed Division, and/or TEC. Small Business and Self-Employed Division officials said that TEC does not have a strategic workforce plan because they focused on creating the division and units such as TEC to begin addressing taxpayer needs, and because they first wanted to gain some experience with TEC as a new unit. IRS and the Small Business and Self-Employed Division are creating a process for developing a workforce plan for TEC that in broad terms would incorporate the critical elements common to workforce planning. However, it is not yet clear whether the workforce plan for TEC will be developed and implemented consistent with these critical elements. For example, IRS and the Small Business and Self-Employed Division have not analyzed the skills that the TEC workforce will need to meet its program goals or outlined the process and data to be used to do these analyses.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS agreed to implement our recommendation and a TEC contact had told us that the recommendation had been implemented. However, the actual workforce plan had not been provided since we began asking for it in late 2004. IRS provided the copy of the plan on 9/1/06. This plan generally followed the critical elements for what a plan should include as we recommended. Between our asking for a copy and receiving it, however, TEC was reorganized into the stakeholder liaison function. Consequently, although TEC's workforce plan was produced as we recommended, its relevance has been superseded by the new organizational structure.

    Recommendation: Given the uncertainty on how the workforce plan for TEC will be developed and implemented, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the workforce plan for TEC be developed in conformance with the critical elements for what a plan should include and how a plan should be developed and implemented.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

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