GAO Reports  
GAO-06-310 March 20, 2006

Business Systems Modernization: IRS Needs to
Complete Recent Efforts to Develop Policies and Procedures
to Guide Requirements Development and Management

The Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) effort to modernize its tax administrative and financial systems--Business Systems Modernization (BSM)--has suffered delays and cost overruns due to a number of factors, including inadequate development and management of requirements. Recognizing these deficiencies, IRS created a Requirements Management Office (RMO) to establish policies and procedures for managing requirements. GAO's objectives were to assess (1) whether the office has established adequate requirements development and management policies and procedures and (2) whether BSM has effectively used requirements development and management practices for key systems development efforts.

BSM does not yet have adequate policies and procedures in place to guide its systems modernization projects in developing and managing requirements. In January 2006, the RMO developed a set of draft policies that address some key areas of requirements development and management; these policies are to serve as interim guidance while the final policies and processes are being developed. At the conclusion of GAO's review, the RMO also provided a high-level plan that includes milestones for completing these policies. Since critical BSM projects continue to be pursued and completion of the policies and procedures is not expected until March 2007, it is critical that BSM immediately implement the draft policies and continue to develop the final policies. As a result of the lack of policies and procedures, the one ongoing project--Modernized e-File (MeF)--and the two completed projects--Filing and Payment Compliance (F&PC) and Customer Account Data Engine (CADE)--GAO reviewed did not consistently follow disciplined practices for systems development and management. For example, all three projects had a key element of managing requirements--a change management process that requires approvals and impact assessments to be completed when there are changes to requirements--but none met all of the practices needed for effective requirements management. In addition, two projects did not have a clear, consistent way to elicit (gather) requirements, two did not have fully documented requirements, and two could not produce fully traceable requirements (i.e., the requirements could not be tracked through development and testing), which is another key element of managing requirements. Unless IRS takes the steps needed to develop and institutionalize disciplined requirements development and management processes and implements draft policies in the interim to cover key areas of requirements development and management, it will continue to face risks, including cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls.

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