IRS is wasting money on one million square feet of rental space, says TIGTA
The Internal Revenue Service could be saving millions of dollars and rent about one million square feet less of space each year if it made its roughly 22,000 telecommuting employees share workstations when working in an IRS building, finds the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration.
In a report (.pdf) dated August 27, TIGTA says the IRS is making ground in support of a presidential goal of eliminating excess federal property, but its workspace consolidation and relocation efforts are hampered by a lack of established policies or effective workstation sharing procedures.
The IRS completed 17 consolidation and relocation projects, saving $2.8 million, between Oct. 2010 and Dec. 2011. Office closures and rental space reductions announced in May 2012 will also create $17.2 million in savings. The IRS planned to finish 66 more projects by the end of Sept. 2012, with an estimated savings of $3.8 million, for fiscal 2012.
These savings are counted toward a goal of $3 billion savings by the end of fiscal 2012, announced by President Obama on June 10, 2010, that the federal government hopes to reach through reduced property rentals.
The memo also requires agencies to look at "innovative approaches to space management" and alternative working styles like telework.
TIGTA finds that the IRS is still paying for more rental space than needed because current practices fail to effectively account for employees who telecommute. Currently, 21,890 employees are allowed to telework, either some or all of the time and 94 percent of these workers do not share workstations.
The report says that if the employees that routinely telework, either full-time or part-time, share their workstations, the agency can eliminate up to 10,244 workstations and save $111.4 million over five years.
Projections say the IRS spent roughly $741 million during fiscal 2012 in real estate costs across 28 million square feet in 655 buildings.
In the report, TIGTA recommends that the IRS human capital officer create an agreement with the National Treasury Employees Union to build a workstation sharing policy that can be implemented across the agency. For future considerations, TIGTA suggests the IRS build in workspace sharing designs and projections for all of its future space needs, including all current real estate planning projects.
TIGTA notes that these are not new concerns for the IRS. In Sept. 2004, TIGTA reported that the IRS had not included a telework or station sharing policy in its projections for future workspace rentals. It noted the same issue again in July 2009, and the agency's Oct. 2009 agreement with its union featureed no requirement for telework employees to share workstations.
The IRS agreed with TIGTA's recommendations and reached an agreement with the union for a policy that went into effect Oct 1. The IRS is now in the process of reviewing its interim and long-term strategies for future work sites.
download (.pdf) the TIGTA report, 2012-10-100