New National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee Newsletter

The issue of NWTRCC’s newsletter, More Than a Paycheck, is now available on-line. Among the features in this issue:

If you’ve been following The Picket Line for a while, you’ll know that from time to time I check in to see how the IRS is doing with its database modernization effort.

The IRS, naturally, was an early-adopter of database technology. But unfortunately for them, as a result their data is now very much enmeshed in a web of IRS-specific, archaic programs and databases that are written in the Computer Science equivalent of “dead languages.”

So they decided to do a complete upgrade and bring things up to more modern standards. In , they budgeted $3 billion for a 15-year project (after an earlier, $3.3 billion effort had failed). The budget quickly jumped to $8 billion, but even so, by the time the first billion was spent, five years in, the project was already 40% over-budget for what little it had managed to accomplish and some milestones were more than two years overdue.

As late as , the IRS announced that it hoped to launch the Customer Account Data Engine (CADE) portion of the project that year, but the launch date kept being put off: to , then . Finally the agency dropped the contractor they’d been working with and decided to start over. Only portions of CADE have ever gone live (it currently processes the simplest 30% or so of personal income tax returns). And the agency’s inability to stick to its software modernization schedule is costing the government serious money.

They tried throwing more money at the problem, they tried radically scaling back the project requirements… nothing worked. By , they were still overbudget and missing deadlines, and the following year auditors noticed that the project, to the extent it worked at all, had serious security vulnerabilities.

Now, according to Government Computer News, they’re throwing in the towel. They’ve halted work on the project (“pending a strategy review”) “because of concerns over increasing complexities in system development.”