By Rob Crandall / Shutterstock.com

IRS Rebrands Obama-Era 'Future State' Efficiency Reorganization

Name of the initiative has changed but goals remain similar.

Like many presidential administrations, the Trump team’s political appointees prefer to put their own mark on inherited efficiency improvement efforts. The managers at the Internal Revenue Service are no exception.

The tax agency’s plan for “Future State,” launched in 2014 under then-Commissioner John Koskinen to polish up customer service and consult more with stakeholders, is no longer known to employees by that name, the Government Accountability Office reported last week.

“In August 2018, IRS announced to all employees that IRS would generally discontinue using the term Future State, but that the goals of the Future State vision would continue as part of the strategic plan,” IRS officials told GAO auditors. Following multiple conversations in fall 2017, the consensus among senior leaders was that “IRS has a number of planning and reorganization efforts ongoing and it made sense to merge the Future State vision with its new strategic plan to create a single, consistent IRS vision.”

They cautioned, however, that the approach is “more of a rebranding than a policy change,” and that Future State’s basic goals remain part of the six themes in the 2018-2022 strategic plan.

When introduced in May 2014, the Future State plan had six objectives:

  • Facilitate voluntary compliance by empowering taxpayers with secure innovative tools and support;
  •  Understand noncompliant taxpayer behavior and develop approaches to deter and change it;
  • Leverage and collaborate with external stakeholders;
  • Cultivate a well-equipped, diverse, skilled and flexible workforce;
  • Select highest value work using data analytics and a robust feedback loop, and,
  • Drive more agility, efficiency and effectiveness in IRS operations.

The newer strategic plan differs only at the margins, placing greater emphasis in its key tenets, for example, on combating refund fraud and theft.

GAO noted that IRS’s implementation timetable remains unclear, and that the Obama IRS had not estimated the total cost of Future State reforms, saying it depended on final annual budgets.

“IRS officials told us that classifying their requested budget amounts by the themes was difficult to develop and created confusion among appropriations committees’ staff,” the report said. “As a result, in budget requests for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, IRS did not refer to the Future State or link requested increases in funding to it.”

A separate progress report faulted the tax agency for insufficient documentation and follow-through on a plan launched under Obama in response to an angry Republican Congress, specifically a Senate Finance Committee probe, to beef up monitoring of tax-exempt organizations that risk engaging in improper political conduct.

“In July 2015, the IRS created the Political Activities Referral Committee (PARC) with three experienced managers to independently review referrals containing allegations of impermissible political activity and determine if examinations were warranted,” wrote the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration in a report released on Tuesday.

Those complaints—like those that prompted the multi-year probes of alleged anti-conservative bias in IRS’s Tax-Exempt division—can come from Congress, IRS employees or private citizens.

Auditors found that between July 2015 and August 2016, 19 high-profile referrals were forwarded to the PARC, which determined that 10 merited further examination. But as of January 2018, only five such examinations had been started, auditors found, and none of the groups accused of improper politicking had their tax-exempt status revoked.

“TIGTA determined the IRS did not adequately document research related to the allegation, tax‑exempt laws evaluated, or the rationale behind decisions made,” the report said. “This documentation is vital because the referrals are high-profile, involve extremely sensitive allegations of impermissible political activity, and require a subjective analysis of often unique facts and circumstances of unverified information from the allegations.”

In a larger statistical sample of 6,500 complaints received by the IRS from July 2015 to August 2016, TIGTA estimated that more than 1,000 were not forwarded to the political activities committee and perhaps should have been.

The watchdog made five recommendations to the acting commissioner of the division, which included providing further guidance and training on proper processing of complaints that might go to the committee. IRS managers agreed with all.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.