Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 27, 2016

GAO:  IRS's 1950s Computer System Is Federal Government's Oldest, Putting Taxpayer Information At Risk

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems (GAO- 16-696T):

Federal legacy IT investments are becoming increasingly obsolete: many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported. Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old. For example, ... the Department of the Treasury uses assembly language code—a computer language initially used in the 1950s and typically tied to the hardware for which it was developed.  ... The following table provides examples of legacy systems across the federal government that agencies report are 30 years or older and use obsolete software or hardware, and identifies those that do not have specific plans with time frames to modernize or replace these investments.


Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink


Given how disasterous government attempts at creating computer systems, i.e. that for Obamacare, perhaps its better that the IRS and others struggle along with software that's decades old. At least it works.

Also, keep in mind that hardware often isn't the issue. Current business systems are designed to use computer code written in the 1970s, even assembly language code. The federal government isn't the only one using legacy systems. Quite a few large businesses do too.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | May 29, 2016 4:33:28 PM

I’ve often thought the reluctance of Congress to appropriate funds for the IRS might have something to do with the IRS’ sometimes spectacular inability to account for a large portion (60% +) the funds appropriated for some of its operations. I’d remembered reading about this long ago and here’s one example of what a quick search revealed.

Who wants to throw good money down a rat hole? And, of course, the current Commissioner has made lots of people unhappy.

Posted by: Joseph W Mooney | May 28, 2016 2:24:27 PM

This article is under the wrong heading. It represents the real "IRS scandal"; underfunding and lack of sufficient resources for the GOTUS's main source of revenue. And it is the cause of much of the agency's problems.

Posted by: Publius Novus | May 28, 2016 6:33:22 AM

You can thank Jack Brooks for this. He was a Democratic congressman from SE Texas who for 42 years blocked any money for upgrading the IRS's computer system.

They don't make Yellow-Dawg Democrats like him anymore.

Posted by: Dale Spradling | May 27, 2016 6:52:56 AM