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Richard Spires, CEO of Learning Tree International and former IRS CIO, discusses the six-year plan to overhaul systems at the agency, and why incremental modernization is the best approach.

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to upgrade their tech over the next six years. The Integrated Modernization Business Plan will upgrade the IRS internal systems and machines used for taxpayer services. Richard Spires, CEO of Learning Tree International and former IRS CIO, says that this modernization effort is all too similar to the agency’s previous efforts.


“Any time you’re going to go for broke like this, you are talking about going from zero modernization funding to close to $300 million a year. To effectively manage that, you will immediately run into some issues. I would much rather see the IRS take an approach where they are embedding modernization over time,” Spires said. “If you look at best practice today in IT, it’s incremental modernization. It’s not a big bang kind of approach anymore. I recognize that there’s a lot of things to solve in the IRS still, retiring the assembly language, retiring the master files is right at the core of it. But they have cybersecurity issues, they have to do better taxpayer service, right…They need to improve all these things, I get that. I’m just not sure that going for broke is the best way to do it.”

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