Auditing The IRS: Agency Failed To Maintain Software Licenses


A recent audit of the Internal Revenue Service showed the government agency did not have the correct software licenses on most of its products, violating federal requirements.

The audit by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found the IRS could not produce appropriate licensing for 24 of the 27 software products it reviewed. The software was on government officials' laptops and desktops.

"Software license management at the IRS is not being adequately performed. Efficient and cost-effective management of the IRS' software assets is crucial to ensuring that information technology services continue to support the IRS' business operations and help it to provide services to taxpayers efficiently," according to the audit.

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The audit found that there was no accurate database of the software licenses held by the IRS, nor did it have enterprisewide or local policies on the management of the software licenses. The IRS did not have specialized tools to deploy the licenses, which would have helped keep track of inactive licenses, or any inventory of the licenses it held connecting the current software with necessary deployment methods and information.

"Efficient and cost-effective management of the IRS' software assets is crucial to ensuring that information technology services continue to support the IRS' business operations," said Inspector General J. Russell George, in a statement. "Our recommendations are intended to help the IRS provide efficient service to taxpayers."

The IRS' Application Registration Database is the only location found to have any list of IRS software, but it "cannot be confirmed as complete and accurate," according to the audit. The database is designed to test new software to make sure it complies with security, integration and compatibility. It is not necessarily updated after the initial testing.

The audit's analysis said that the lack of inventory and data and software held by the IRS hurt the organization's ability to stay on track with license agreements and vendors. The Vendor and Contract Management Office was in charge of minimizing risk involved with software licenses while fitting within tightened budget constraints.

"Because the IRS does not have adequate software licensing tools and inventories, the Vendor and Contract Management office has to improvise, using various tools and data and search various record systems to manually compile the hardware and software data and then perform additional ad hoc calculations to conduct its software licensing analysis," the audit said.

The audit recommended that the IRS develop better policies to keep track of software licenses, including implementing a software management tool, creating an inventory and keeping that database up to date. The IRS agreed to make the changes, according to the audit.

PUBLISHED AUG. 23, 2013