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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TIGTA: IRS Wastes Millions in Internet Access Fees for Employee Laptops and Blackberrys

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Inadequate Aircard and BlackBerry Assignment and Monitoring Processes Result in Millions of Dollars in Unnecessary Access Fees (2013-10-010):

In Fiscal Year 2011, the IRS had approximately 35,000 active aircards and more than 4,400 BlackBerrys assigned to employees, providing them with mobile Internet and e-mail access.  TIGTA found that cost savings can be achieved if the IRS ensures that only those employees with a valid business need are assigned an aircard and/or BlackBerry and provides more effective oversight and monitoring of these devices.  Improved policies and procedures can result in savings of $5.9 million over five years. ...

Processes for assigning and monitoring the use of aircards and BlackBerrys are not adequate to ensure that employees have a business need for the devices.  Assignment of these devices is generally based on job series classifications without adequately ensuring a business need exists.

In addition, the IRS paid approximately $1.1 million during Fiscal Year 2011 for 13,878 aircards and 754 BlackBerrys that were not used for periods of three months to one year.  For example, TIGTA identified 45 aircards and 68 BlackBerrys that were not used at all for the entire 12 months of the fiscal year. 

Finally, 2,560 employees may have been assigned an aircard or BlackBerry without required management approval.  These devices cost the IRS more than $950,000 in Fiscal Year 2011, or about $4.8 million over five years.

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Yes, limiting employees' access to their work email will surely save the government money.

Posted by: andy | Feb 19, 2013 2:36:09 PM

Great. Our Federal government is running up trillion-dollar-a-year deficits, and the TIGTA watchdogs are ferreting out million-dollar-a-year waste. Sooner than strip rank and file IRS employees of aircards and Blackberries, wouldn't it be easier to disband TIGTA in order to save that million dollars per year?

Posted by: Jake | Feb 19, 2013 6:43:08 PM

It's my understanding the IRS pays a standard monthly fee per card. Perhaps it would be more cost efficient to pay a minumum fee and a usage fee. Thus the fee for employees who occasionally need an Aircard would be based on actual use.

Posted by: Elmer Stoup | Feb 20, 2013 11:30:17 AM

The gaps in usage make sense for agents who work large cases. Once they are established at a taxpayer's site, they typically have wired network access for a period of several months. They may only need the aircard when traveling or when assigned to new or smaller cases, but it doesn't seem to make much sense to deactivate their aircards and issue new ones for when they need them.

Posted by: Murray | Feb 21, 2013 5:52:44 AM