The IRS Gets An Electronic Image Overhaul

March 1996
THE CYBERSCAPE

The IRS Gets An Electronic Image Overhaul

[IRS HOMEPAGE GRAPHIC]
Visitors to the new IRS Web site may be forgiven for thinking they may have typed in the wrong address when its home page pops up on their screen. The hip, slick, breezy site is hardly what you'd expect from one of the stodgiest agencies.

"It's no secret that next to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the IRS is probably the least liked federal agency," says Steven Shaffer, whose firm, Websys Inc., was hired by the IRS to develop and manage the site. "It's not like they're the Department of Puppy Dogs. We set out to change that."

And how. A quick click on the home page (http://www.irs.ustreas.gov) leads the user to an electronic publication, The Digital Daily, crammed with graphics and breezily written text. The agency bills it as "the fastest, easiest tax publication on the planet." Even the little icons directing users to various areas of the site are cute and clever: a pair of eyeglasses for the search function, a Band-Aid for the help section and a comfy easy chair to send users home to the front page.

Previously, the IRS did have a rather stodgy little page that resided within the Treasury Department's site. But last year agency officials decided they wanted to update their image and provide a broader range of services online. The new site went up in early January.

So far, reaction has been intense, but mixed. By early February, the IRS was getting upwards of 600,000 hits a day on the site and it had garnered awards from several organizations that rate Web pages. But some users were a little overwhelmed by its intense graphics, which can take awhile for those with modems at 14,400 bps and slower to download (a text-only version of the site is also available). "People either really, really like it or really, really hate it," says Shaffer. There's little question, though, that a lot of users are finding useful information at the site. In early February, before this year's tax season had heated up, users were downloading about 40,000 forms a day.

In addition to making its forms and publications available on the site, the IRS provides taxpayer information for businesses and individuals, a forum for taxpayer help and a section called "Tax Regs in English." The front page of The Digital Daily also contains regularly rotating feature stories on agency initiatives. In late January and early February for example, the agency was promoting TeleFile, its pilot project allowing some taxpayers to file their returns over the phone.

Shaffer says IRS and Websys got the site up in about 90 days last year at a cost he characterizes as "under half a million dollars." Now Websys is managing the site under an ongoing contract with the agency. A team of about 15 people-split almost evenly between contractor personnel and IRS employees-works to keep it up-to-date.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.