The IRS is slowly improving how it hires and manages its workforce, a Treasury audit
(.pdf) found, adding that without continued focus the agency could easily become overwhelmed by difficult new challenges.
In fiscal 2009 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration determined that the Internal Revenue Service needed to "act as one IRS" to improve management of human capital, balance the need to strategically address human capital issues with day-to-day workforce issues, determine where progress was both made and falling short, and build on its successes.
In its latest report, TIGTA says the IRS has met 36 of its 46 recommendations for improving human capital management since fiscal 2009. Over that same time it also implemented 53 or 58 recommendations made by an IRS-led task force formed to tackle "serious" workforce issues, according to the report, including putting in place an agencywide recruiting strategy.
But the agency faces daunting challenges that, if not faced head-on, threaten the progress it has made, TIGTA says.
The IRS has shrunk by the equivalent of 10,000 full-time employees over the past two fiscal years, and faces the possible retirement of many of its most experienced personnel over the next five years, the report notes.
Other looming challenges: managing expected major changes in the tax code, stopping billions in tax fraud, and losing the current commissioner, a champion of workforce-management reform.
On top of that, the report says, IRS still needs to address more than a dozen corrective actions outlined four years ago, including developing a strategy to integrate new personnel into the workforce, and assigning new employees coaches or mentors.
"While difficult, successfully addressing human capital challenges will help the IRS to do more with less and effectively meet its tax administration responsibilities," TIGTA concludes.
The auditors did not make any new recommendations.