How much of the workflow of revenue officers at the IRS is dictated by computers?
It isn’t that surprising that most of the mail the IRS sends out is generated by computers. What’s surprising is that computers basically run the show on all levels of the IRS. In this blog entry, I discuss the grip the Tax Machine holds over IRS Employees in the field.
So much of what the IRS does these days is run by computers. It shouldn’t surprise anyone who is used to getting mail from the IRS that most of those letters are written by computers. It doesn’t matter if it is:
- a notice that the IRS is missing a tax return,
- a notice you make a mistake on your return and the IRS is “fixing” it for you,
- a notice that you are being audited,
- a notice of deficiency,
- a collection notice,
- a final notice of intent to levy
- and so on, etc
Most of the mail the IRS sends out did not require a single human being to type a single word.
OK, I might be exaggerating a little bit. SOMEBODY wrote the form letter. At some point. Once. And now that letter is being used over and over again.
This isn’t really that surprising. The IRS is basically sending you junkmail that you aren’t allowed to ignore. (You are already a customer.)
But you know what is surprising to me? The Tax Machine is not satisfied with spitting out a few automated letters, meeting all of the notice requirements of the tax code and taking advantage of taxpayers who don’t know how and when to stand up for themselves. That just isn’t enough for the Tax Machine.
The IRS computers want to tell people in the field how to do their jobs. It gets worse. The IRS computers want to tell the managers of each field office how to run things. Do you find that hard to believe? I don’t blame you. But here it is, in English. Sort of. (feel free to skip the blahblahblah of the IRM for my take below):
ENTITY Case Management System (ENTITY) Overview
- The ENTITY Case Management System (ENTITY) is a current database of Field Collection (FC) and Advisory inventory. The ENTITY application receives data from the Integrated Collection System (ICS) for open, closed and return to queue cases; the Delinquent Inventory Account List (DIAL) for queue cases; and the Automated Lien System (ALS) for lien information on all cases.
- ENTITY provides revenue officers (ROs) and group managers (GMs) with report data, which can assist them in managing inventory. ENTITY produces reports that can be used at the individual, group, territory, area and national levels. The GM Case Assignment function available in ENTITY is the primary method Field Collection GMs use to assign inventory from the Queue to ROs in their group.
- The data collected on the ENTITY system can be queried and sorted into various report formats. Systemic reports are available and customized queries can be built by the user. Various print options are available for these reports and queries.
- Time reported by ROs via the Daily Time Report function on ICS is extracted to ENTITY and is available to users in various queries and reports.
- Collection End of Month (EOM) reports are generated and approved in ENTITY. These reports are available at the individual, group, territory, area, and national levels.
- The data displayed on ENTITY can be queried, sorted, and formatted by the user to fit specific needs. Queries can be run at individual, group, territory, area and national levels. Various print options are available for the output from reports and queries.
- ENTITY data is used within the business unit in many ways, e.g., for case management, resource allocation and business plan monitoring.
- Advisory has access to ENTITY and can run queries and reports designed specifically for them. However, they do not run EOM reports as they do not use ICS for time reporting.
So what is this ENTITY “Case Management System”
The ENTITY program compiles reports from several different IRS databases, providing information to help IRS collections employees do their jobs. But it doesn’t stop there. if you read carefully, you’ll see that the ENTITY program also includes “the GM Case Assignment function.” That function, according to the I.R.M. is the “primary” way GMs determine which cases get pulled from waiting “in the queue” to be worked by local IRS Collection employees. In my experience, most GMs are now allowing computers to assign all of the cases to field personnel.
So, from the very start of any case assigned to a Revenue Officer these days, a computer, ENTITY, is telling that Revenue Officer that it’s time to show up at Joe Taxpayer’s house for a friendly chat. Then, every time a General Manager holds a performance review with an RO, ENTITY is there to provide the facts on which the GM will base that review.