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Congress gives IRS more money for modernization

The Internal Revenue Service's modernization effort is set to receive a financial boost from Congress. Leaders of appropriations committees on Capitol Hill recently agreed to release $200 million to help the agency complete its modernization program. The IRS continues to face significant modernization challenges in its effort to reform and reinvent itself. In July 1998, Congress passed the IRS Restructing and Reform Act in response to calls for better service from the IRS. The act required the agency to implement 71 new or modified taxpayer rights provisions. The provisions were intended to make collection agents more accountable for their cases. In late September, Congress approved a $32.8 million stop gap spending plan to fund IRS information system modernization programs. That measure was in response to a drafted General Accounting Office study that found the IRS had not met four congressional requirements for continued funding to upgrade the nation's tax system. GAO's final report confirmed that while the agency had not met congressional requirements, the IRS had made substantial progress. The recent allotment is subtracted from $577 million set aside by Congress for the IRS' information technology revamping efforts. The IRS must present its proposals to Congress to "ensure a proper approach to technology modernization." Most of the money approved by Congress will be used as a management reserve fund to help "ensure the modernization projects move forward smoothly and without interruption," according to Paul Cosgrave, an IRS spokesman. "This partnership approach with Congress and other groups has put us on track to deliver significant business and technological changes to help taxpayers," Cosgrave said.