TIGTA: IRS not managing aircards and BlackBerrys cost-effectively

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Due to inadequate aircard and BlackBerry assignment and monitoring processes, the Internal Revenue Service is paying millions of dollars in unnecessary access fees, says a report (.pdf) by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

In fiscal 2011, the IRS spent $8.5 million on aircards and $2.9 million on BlackBerrys to enable the agency's employees to have mobile Internet and email access. However, TIGTA found that if the IRS improves its policies and procedures the agency could save $5.9 million over 5 years. Current policy doesn't ensure that employees have a business need for mobile connectivity, TIGTA says, adding that tax agency workers get a BlackBerry or air card "generally based on job series classifications."

As a result, TIGTA says the IRS paid approximately $1.1 million during fiscal 2011 for 13,878 aircards and 754 BlackBerrys that were not used for periods of 3 months to one year. In addition, auditors report that 2,560 employees may have been assigned an aircard or BlackBerry without required management approval, costing the IRS more than $950,000 in fiscal 2011, or about $4.8 million over five years.

The report recommends that the IRS develop processes to periodically evaluate job series access profiled for aircards and BlackBerrys and ensure managerial approval of devices is based on business need. Auditors also call for the IRS to establish a pooling policy for aircards, as well as review its inventory records to identify devices shown as assigned to employees without proper management approval. In addition, TIGTA suggests the IRS develop a formalized process to identify BlackBerrys the no usage and identify whether BlackBerrys with no data use could be replaced with a lower costing cell phone.

According to the report, the IRS only agreed with two of TIGTA's six recommendations. The agency agreed to establish a policy to periodically evaluate the job series profiled for aircards and BlackBerrys and agreed to formally document their process to monitor BlackBerrys with no usage.

For more:
-download the report (.pdf)

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