Friday, September 19, 2008

IRS IT Systems

A report from Next Gov on IRS progress with IT systems:

Several issues, however, could pose challenges to the project in the long term. For example, while the goal is for CADE to house all taxpayer information permanently, the system stores the data used to process returns only for the current year. Historical taxpayer account data, such as prior year tax assessments and outstanding tax liabilities, are maintained in a separate database not compatible with CADE's format.

In addition, CADE is approaching maximum capacity in terms of data storage. With the expectation that the taxpayer population will increase significantly, the IRS must decide whether to reduce CADE capabilities, or invest in new technology or alternative resources to satisfy demand, the IG recommended.

Without knowing anything about it, I can give IRS a break on the first issue--"backward compatibility" is always an issue when you do a new system, and not always desirable. Presumably over time the problem will be resolved as the current year's data migrates to the prior year, etc. But the second issue--that's a problem. With costs of storage always dropping, the problem has to be in the software. Granted that you always want more (designing software is like a country boy going to a mall for the first time--you keep seeing more and more possibilities) but after this many years of designing systems we ought to be able to do better estimating.

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