The TIGTA’s Nagging of the IRS Delves into Phone Etiquette

In case you’re not up to speed on the federal bureaucracy org chart, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s expressed purpose is to tell the IRS what it is they suck at doing and what they can do to quit sucking at it.

The latest bad report card for the IRS is that of protecting the identity of taxpayers who call the Service for help. The epic fail is due to customer reps not being inquisitive enough when identifying callers and not their inability to use their inside voices. The TIGTA presents its displeasure with the phone “assistors” in its latest report:

From our statistical sample of 180 contact recordings, we determined that assistors did not properly follow procedures when authenticating 29 (16 percent) callers, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosures. Based on these results, the projected number of callers with increased risk of unauthorized disclosures is 44,067 for 1 week.

So, you figure 2.2 million unauthorized disclosures a year. Maybe that’s a legitimate concern but in the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad? If you consider the fact that 22.4 million people aren’t even getting help, that seems like a pretty good number. Regardless of our realistic standards, the TIGTA has more harping to do:

During our review of 48 (27 percent) of the 180 sampled calls, we were able to overhear other assistors discussing other callers’ Personally Identifiable Information. For 10 calls (6 percent), we were able to clearly hear parts of conversations with other callers. For 38 calls (21 percent), other assistors’ interactions with callers were overheard, but we could not clearly understand the conversations. This happened because assistors did not put callers on hold when they were researching the taxpayers’ accounts. Also, the physical layout of employee workstations at call centers allows other conversations to be easily overheard.

So in this particular case it sounds like the IRS has two choices 1) force everybody to become low talkers or 2) spring for a larger cube farm so people aren’t up in each other’s shit.

The real question her is, can we realistically expect an error rate of zero from the IRS? When did “good enough for government work” no longer apply?

Telephone Authentication Practices Need Improvements to Better Prevent Unauthorized Disclosures [TIGTA via TaxProf]

In case you’re not up to speed on the federal bureaucracy org chart, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s expressed purpose is to tell the IRS what it is they suck at doing and what they can do to quit sucking at it.

The latest bad report card for the IRS is that of protecting the identity of taxpayers who call the Service for help. The epic fail is due to customer reps not being inquisitive enough when identifying callers and not their inability to use their inside voices. The TIGTA presents its displeasure with the phone “assistors” in its latest report:

From our statistical sample of 180 contact recordings, we determined that assistors did not properly follow procedures when authenticating 29 (16 percent) callers, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosures. Based on these results, the projected number of callers with increased risk of unauthorized disclosures is 44,067 for 1 week.

So, you figure 2.2 million unauthorized disclosures a year. Maybe that’s a legitimate concern but in the grand scheme of things, is it really that bad? If you consider the fact that 22.4 million people aren’t even getting help, that seems like a pretty good number. Regardless of our realistic standards, the TIGTA has more harping to do:

During our review of 48 (27 percent) of the 180 sampled calls, we were able to overhear other assistors discussing other callers’ Personally Identifiable Information. For 10 calls (6 percent), we were able to clearly hear parts of conversations with other callers. For 38 calls (21 percent), other assistors’ interactions with callers were overheard, but we could not clearly understand the conversations. This happened because assistors did not put callers on hold when they were researching the taxpayers’ accounts. Also, the physical layout of employee workstations at call centers allows other conversations to be easily overheard.

So in this particular case it sounds like the IRS has two choices 1) force everybody to become low talkers or 2) spring for a larger cube farm so people aren’t up in each other’s shit.

The real question her is, can we realistically expect an error rate of zero from the IRS? When did “good enough for government work” no longer apply?

Telephone Authentication Practices Need Improvements to Better Prevent Unauthorized Disclosures [TIGTA via TaxProf]

Latest Accounting Jobs--Apply Now:

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

Related articles