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IRS strategic business plan.

IRS Strategic Business Plan

The Internal Revenue Service recently conducted a one-day seminar to explain its Strategic Business Plan to several stakeholder groups, including members of the practitioner community. NSPA had several representatives in attendance at this enlightening meeting. What emerged was a clear and enthusiastic commitment on the agency's part to revolutionize the tax administration system in this country. The realization of that commitment will be no small task, of course, but more on that in a moment.

First, a little bit of background on the agency's Strategic Business Plan (SBP). The SBP establishes long-range, comprehensive objectives and strategies which outline how the IRS will carry out its tax administration responsibilities. The current SBP reaches into the mid-1990s.

The SBP is composed of three basic parameters: Objectives, Strategies and Corporate Critical Success Factors.

Objectives pertain to the agency's broad policy goals for tax administration. Strategies are the means to these ends. Corporate Critical Success Factors outline the particular activities the agency must take during a given fiscal year to ensure progress on the SBP's Objectives and Strategies.

If all of this sounds like bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, it really isn't. Strategic business planning has become an essential component of most large, successful corporations in this rapidly-changing information age. It is to IRS' credit that the agency had the courage and foresight to institute the strategic planning process a few years ago. The SBP is the culmination of the national office's strategic planning efforts since that time.

The SBP currently contains six Objectives and 24 Strategies. For FY 1991, there are 13 Corporate Critical Success Factors. Although it's not possible to review all of these items here, some samples would be helpful to understanding the process.

The SBP's six objectives are: 1. Increase voluntary compliance. 2. Improve customer satisfaction,

quality of products and services

and productivity. 3. Reduce burden on taxpayers. 4. Employ, retain, develop and support

a quality workforce. 5. Improve use of financial resources. 6. Improve and increase the capture,

availability and use of information


Some of the 24 strategies include:

Strategy 3 (Objective 1) - Improve the processing, quality timeliness, usefulness and efficiency of information returns and financial reporting documents. Achieve an increase in accuracy rates of 3% per year over current baseline for reporting, filing and processing information returns.

Strategy 7 (Objective 2) - By September 30, 1998, institute a fully tested approach that will provide resolution of 95% of taxpayers' issues or problems through a single contact with the Service.

Strategy 9 (Objective 3) - By September 30, 1992, develop a taxpayer burden index that takes into account the time, expense, recordkeeping, required contacts, professional fees and other measures of the cost and frustration experienced by taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations.

This is quite clearly meaty stuff; baselines, indices, percentages and deadlines all play a role in the SBP. Thus, far from being a bureaucratic flim-flam, the SBP represents a nuts and bolts approach as to how IRS intends to become a "total quality organization" by the end of the decade.

From NSPA's dealings with national office personnel, it is entirely evident that the men and women there are absolutely dedicated to this program. They believe in the importance of the SBP and are absolutely willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. Moreover, the unprecedented inclusion of outside interest groups makes clear that the IRS is earnest about making its SBP work.

What's that you say? A skeptical voice in the crowd? A cynic? That's not entirely unforgivable. Certainly your own experiences in dealing with the IRS give some (many?) of you fair grounds for greeting the SBP with a raised eyebrow.

Unfortunately, the same factors that caused your cynicism also have the potential to be the Achilles' Heel of the SBP, since at their root, many of the IRS' problems stem from the fact that the agency is so large and, more importantly, so decentralized.

The reasons for decentralizing the agency were overwhelming at the time it was implemented. For those of us too young to remember, apparently, there was some widespread corruption and croneyism in several IRS districts in the early 1950s. As a result, Congress, among other things, de-politicized the appointment of district directors and decentralized the agency's chain of command.

Whatever the reasons back then, the bottom line today is that much of the national office's good intentions never makes it to the grassroots in the field. That is what leaves so many practitioners frustrated with many aspects of tax administration.

It would be a travesty if this happened with the SBP. So much hard work has gone, and continues to go, into this much-needed effort. It's not entirely clear how to get the word on SBP out on down the line, but it is clear that the program's success depends on doing just that. For its part, NSPA stands ready to assist IRS in this critical task in every way possible.
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Title Annotation:Capitol Corridors; Internal Revenue Service
Author:Berkery, Peter M., Jr.
Publication:The National Public Accountant
Article Type:Column
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Previous Article:State taxation of former residents' pensions.
Next Article:Taxation and representation.

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