Page 25 - FCW, November/December 2021
P. 25

$8 billion Is the five-year ceiling for the State Department’s forthcoming Evolve IT services contract
60-year-old IRS system won’t be modernized until 2030
AT&T wins
another shot
at FBI telecom
The IRS completed most of its planned IT modernization activities in the past two fiscal years on schedule and within budget, but its effort to replace a 60-year-old system will now cover core functions only and isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2030.
The Government Accountability Office reviewed five IRS IT investments and found that
they met most performance
goals for fiscal 2019
and 2020. However, the Customer Account Data
Engine 2 (CADE 2) program
has seen many delays and
cost changes since the IRS first started developing it in 2009, according to GAO. A key milestone for replacing selected functions, for example, has been pushed back by nine years, from 2014 to 2023.
CADE 2 is intended to replace the Individual Master File, which is the key source for individual tax information. The modernized system would provide the infrastructure needed for real-time taxpayer interactions, rapid access to data and agile response to legislative changes, according to the GAO report.
The CADE 2 program had lower reported costs than anticipated for 2020 and met most performance goals for the past two years, but GAO called its long-term performance and outlook “troubling.”
Development costs are about four times higher than originally planned, and CADE 2 is now expected to replace only core components of the old program rather than the entire system.
According to GAO, the Individual Master File is one of the oldest systems in the federal government, with software written in computer
languages such as COBOL that are no longer part of core computer science curricula. The specialized workers needed to support legacy IRS systems are expensive and increasingly difficult to find.
Furthermore, the IRS had to sideline CADE 2 activities so it could deploy IT equipment and upgrade infrastructure bandwidth to maximize telework capabilities during the pandemic. Hardware supply chain back orders and delays in procurement activities were among the issues that delayed
infrastructure refreshes.
“IRS reported that staffing resources
initially allocated for CADE 2 had been reassigned to support COVID-19 responsibilities, resulting in a 7-month delay in the scheduled completion of key development activities,” the GAO report states.
In comments included in the report, Jeffrey Tribiano, IRS deputy commissioner for operations support, highlighted the Individual Master File’s importance in providing data “to support IRS customer service, compliance, custodial accounting and fraud detection.”
“Despite its limitations, the system continues to perform and enable the IRS to implement legislative mandates,” he wrote. “The IMF modernization plan, which has been independently assessed, positions the IRS to incrementally deliver benefits each year for the next 10 years. With the American Rescue Plan providing modernization funding, we are accelerating these efforts, but continued progress will depend on available funding.”
— Natalie Alms
When a company files a bid protest, one of the things it hopes for is another shot at the contract in question. That’s what AT&T has earned in pursuit of a pair of FBI task orders worth a combined $1.6 billion.
The FBI has agreed to re-evaluate proposals for a $1.2 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions task order for telecommunications services and a $419.3 million task order for data networking and voice services through EIS.
The telecom services task order went to Verizon, while the data networking contract was won by Lumen Technologies.
In its protest, AT&T said the evaluations were not performed properly. Rather than argue with AT&T in its response to the protest, the FBI agreed to re-evaluate and make a new selection decision. There is no timeline for that decision.
AT&T filed its first protest within five days of the post-award debriefing. The second protest occurred within 10 days of the debriefing. Protests filed within five days automatically trigger a “stay” or stop-work order. Furthermore, challenges to an agency decision can be declared untimely if raised after 10 days.
The EIS contract is a huge vehicle held by nine companies that are competing for task orders to modernize federal telecom environments. Verizon has been the biggest winner under EIS so far, capturing 40% of the task orders by value. AT&T is next with 25.5%, and Lumen holds third place with 22.2%.
— Nick Wakeman
“The IMF modernization plan...positions the IRS to incrementally deliver benefits each year for the next 10 years.”
— Jeffrey Tribiano, IRS
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