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MSP #2: IRS RECRUITMENT, HIRING, AND TRAINING

The Lack of Sufficient and Highly Trained Employees Impedes Effective Tax Administration.

TAS Recommendations and IRS Responses

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1.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-1

HCO explore opportunities around developing a process to qualify an applicant for a specific job series periodically, e.g., only once every year, which allows applicants to update their information as needed while meeting the requirements of the series. Once qualified for that specific job series, the applicant can be placed on a “prequalified” list for that series that will expire after a set time period, instead of going through the qualification process repeatedly for positions in that series.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​While this recommendation appears helpful, there are several complexities involved. The IRS has evaluated the pre-qualification concept; however, a pre-qualification process is not sustainable because each application is a unique package, and applicants must be considered based on the application package they submit to each individual announcement. Additionally, each announcement requires a technical assessment related to specific duties of the position. The responses to those assessment questions result in an overall score used to rate/rank applicants as best qualified. Many of the benefits that TAS seeks to obtain can be achieved through the use of roster and enterprise job announcements. The IRS regularly uses these announcements, which include multiple locations and grades and allow for applicants to apply to a single announcement. Rosters/Enterprise announcements are open for up to one year and the IRS need only qualify applicants on the one announcement.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A

TAS RESPONSE: TAS understands the IRS’s response, but we disagree, and we believe that the IRS misunderstood our position. We would like to ask for clarification as to what the IRS studied and evaluated to come to this decision. While rosters and enterprise job announcements are helpful, what TAS is recommending is something different. Under TAS’s proposal, once a person is qualified for a position, that potential candidate can be placed on a “prequalified” list for that position. While each application package may be unique, there are a set of standard qualifications. Under this proposal, the Human Capital Office (HCO) will not have to do all of the qualifications again in a given time period. This would help reduce the time HCO spends on having to qualify applicants.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Not Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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2.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-2

HCO continue to seek critical pay authority for additional positions beyond IT.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​The IRS is currently seeking to expand use of Streamlined Critical Pay beyond IT and increase the number of positions designated for Critical Position Pay for use beyond IT. The request has been submitted to the Department of the Treasury for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Congressional consideration.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: ​The IRS is currently seeking to expand use of Streamlined Critical Pay beyond IT and increase the number of positions designated for Critical Position Pay for use beyond IT. The request has been submitted to the Department of the Treasury for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Congressional consideration.

TAS RESPONSE: It is encouraging that the IRS agrees to implement this recommendation. We are optimistic that the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and other stakeholders will see the benefits of expanding Streamlined Critical Pay beyond Information Technology (IT) and increasing the number of positions designated for Critical Pay for use beyond IT. We are hopeful that the IRS will be able to get some traction in these areas, as it would be beneficial both to taxpayers and the IRS if the IRS is better able to recruit and hire for critical positions.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): Ongoing

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3.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-3

HCO continue to seek direct-hire authorities for critical positions to meet the demand of the hiring surge expected in FY 2022 and beyond, under the administration’s proposal.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​On February 24, 2022, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) granted IRS direct hiring authority to address immediate hiring needs critical to the success of the 2021 – 2023 filing seasons for Wage and Investment (Accounts Management and Submission Processing). This authority expires on December 31, 2023. The IRS is still pursuing direct hiring authority from OPM for certain IT positions. If approved, this authority will enable the IRS to target and hire individuals through various venues, events, and systems to deliver applicants with the necessary skill sets. Efforts are also underway to pursue legislative changes to allow the Secretary of the Treasury (or the Secretary’s delegate) to use funds as they deem necessary to administer the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, including using DHA to recruit and appoint qualified applicants directly to positions in the competitive service.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: The IRS is still pursuing direct hiring authority from OPM for certain IT positions. If approved, this authority will enable the IRS to target and hire individuals through various venues, events, and systems to deliver applicants with the necessary skill sets. Efforts are also underway to pursue legislative changes to allow the Secretary of the Treasury (or the Secretary’s delegate) to use funds as they deem necessary to administer the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, including using DHA to recruit and appoint qualified applicants directly to positions in the competitive service.

TAS RESPONSE: TAS is encouraged that the IRS received direct hiring authority to address immediate hiring needs. We are optimistic that the IRS will receive the additional direct hiring authority from OPM and hopes that the IRS will continue to request direct hiring authority when the current authority expires. We also hope that with the significant wave of IRS hiring on the horizon, HCO will be ready to deal with the influx of hiring activity under this authority.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): Ongoing

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4.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-4

HCO and IRS Next prepare and submit OPM Form 1397, Special Salary Rate Request Form, to request that OPM establish higher rates of basic pay or special rates for a group or category of GS positions.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​Special Salary Rates (SSR) are available for IRS business units to provide a higher salary for positions that have been identified as difficult-to-fill (e.g., Information Technology). Currently, the IRS utilizes special salary rates for IT Management (GS-2210) and General Engineer (GS-0801) positions. HCO engaged the Department of the Treasury to seek options, and no other options exist aside from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Form 1397. Currently, we are developing a roadmap that will include the necessary documentation and justification required for IRS business units’ submission of OPM Form 1397 for targeted GS series. IRS NEXT to be involved in an advisor capacity to HCO when filling out the form.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: We are developing a roadmap that will include the necessary documentation and justification required for IRS business units’ submission of OPM Form 1397 for targeted GS series. IRS NEXT to be involved in an advisor capacity to HCO when filling out the form.

TAS RESPONSE:TAS commends HCO and IRS Next in their efforts to develop a roadmap that will include the necessary documentation for submission of OPM Form 1397 for targeted GS series positions. Setting more appropriate rates of pay to match the current labor market for certain groups or categories of GS positions will better help the IRS in becoming more competitive in recruiting and hiring a skilled workforce. We hope the IRS will share their roadmap with TAS so we can better advocate and help the IRS with this effort.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): 5/31/2022

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5.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-5

HCO improves its communications strategy with BODs and with successful applicants to keep both informed of which activities have been completed and which remain for that applicant, throughout the hiring process.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​The USA Staffing Hiring Manager Dashboard has recently been upgraded to include more data points on hiring progress throughout the hiring process. Business units have access to detailed reports that reflect which activities have been completed throughout the hiring process. Additionally, the standard IRS business process is to copy the selecting official on all job offers. Applicants receive 4 touchpoints throughout the application process: (1) Application received; (2) Self-assessment eligibility received; (3) Applicant Referred/Not Referred on a certificate; and (4) Tentative Job offer if selected or Non-selection notice if not selected. The tentative job offer includes an estimated timeframe for starting work dependent on when the applicant completes his/her onboarding steps. After accepting the tentative job offer, the applicant receives an email to schedule a fingerprinting appointment, as well as a firm job offer once Personnel Security has deemed him or her suitable for federal employment.

This recommendation has already been implemented.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A

TAS RESPONSE: While the additional data points provided automatically by the new system may be helpful, we believe that more personal, more detailed communication between the applicant and HCO and between HCO and the business units should be considered. The IRS should have more clear options for personalized communication, including who to contact to follow up.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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6.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-6

HCO, in consultation with the IRS Next Office and other relevant IRS offices, develop a plan to use data analytics to improve IRS recruitment efforts.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​The Strategic Talent Analytics & Recruitment Solutions Office (STARS) currently uses data analytics from announcement and social media platforms for IRS recruitment efforts. The analytics from announcements provide recruitment sources that applicants identify as providing their first notice of the job and allows us to determine the actual return-on-investment from that particular type of recruitment, location, etc. The analytics from social media provide information on how many hits a particular post received. The data received from these sources enable STARS to craft recruitment strategies for the fiscal year, which are incorporated into the Recruitment Playbook. We have gathered data from recent surveys and interviews to identify opportunities to improve the overall approach to recruitment, and the IRS NEXT Office, working with STARS, has engaged Research, Applied Analytics & Statistics (RAAS) to identify additional data analytics opportunities.

This recommendation has already been implemented.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A

TAS RESPONSE: TAS is encouraged that HCO and IRS NEXT Office have engaged Research, Applied Analytics & Statistics (RAAS) to identify additional data analytics opportunities. We hope that incorporation of this data will dramatically improve the IRS recruitment strategy. We hope that the results of those additional data analytic methods the IRS NEXT Office and HCO are developing with RAAS will be shared with TAS so that we can better understand what will be implemented

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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7.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-7

HCO STARS supply more additional logistical support to BODs for recruitment events than is already being provided, including more agency wide recruitment events and access to additional professional branding and marketing materials (i.e., hiring booth display items and materials to distribute to applicants).

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​The Human Capital Office’s Strategic Talent Analytics & Recruitment Solutions Office (HCO STARS) hired 10 additional recruiters in 2021, with plans to hire an additional 15 recruiters in 2022, if funding is approved. STARS collaborates directly with business units in recruitment efforts to coordinate on information sessions, career fairs, creating/distributing flyers, developing marketing videos, and utilizing social media platforms. In collaboration with the IRS NEXT Office, STARS recently developed and launched the Strategic Recruitment website, a central hub of communication and knowledge-sharing between STARS and the business units that provides access to resources such as branding and marketing materials. Working collaboratively with the business units and IRS NEXT through monthly forum discussions, we will continue to refine the website, providing more information, resources, and tools that the business units identify as needed and useful in support of their recruiting needs.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: Working collaboratively with the business units and IRS NEXT through monthly forum discussions, we will continue to refine the website, providing more information, resources, and tools that the business units identify as needed and useful in support of their recruiting needs.

TAS RESPONSE: We are optimistic that hiring additional recruiters and the creation of the new Strategic Recruitment website will improve the IRS’s recruitment efforts significantly. However, we believe more should be done to provide additional servicewide recruitment opportunities. TAS stands ready to assist with these efforts where we can. We will continue to advocate for more resources for the IRS on these fronts.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): 9/30/2022

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8.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-8

HCO STARS collaborate with BODs to improve their external-facing career pages geared toward applicants to describe agency functions, job responsibilities, division roles, potential career ladders, and employee testimonials or spotlights.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​Human Capital Office’s Strategic Talent Analytics & Recruitment Solutions Office (HCO STARS) team plans to improve the external facing careers pages geared towards applicants. The team will work with Office of Online Services to link to agency functions, job responsibilities, and division roles on the IRS.gov website and ensure consistent information about the business units.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: Human Capital Office’s Strategic Talent Analytics & Recruitment Solutions Office (HCO STARS) team plans to improve the external facing careers pages geared towards applicants. The team will work with Office of Online Services to link to agency functions, job responsibilities, and division roles on the IRS.gov website and ensure consistent information about the business units.

TAS RESPONSE: We hope that enhancing these external facing career pages will dramatically improve the IRS recruitment strategy. We hope that HCO will share the results of these additional efforts so that we can see the results and assess improvements made.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): 12/31/2022

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9.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-9

HCO periodically administer short surveys (“pulse surveys”) to employees to help ensure HCO is building the partnership it needs with other parts of the IRS to improve its hiring processes and successfully implement its new training strategy.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​On February 1, 2022, we sent the Human Capital Experience Customer Survey to all IRS employees. This is part of a larger Service-wide effort to measure the effect employee engagement has on customer satisfaction. The survey included questions about hiring process experiences for managers and employees. Questions included: (1) “Please rate your experience with the Human Capital Office related to Hiring (searching and/or applying for a job, receiving a job offer, getting hired, onboarding);” (2) “Were you able to find the information you needed (e.g. forms, policy or guidance) to support your experience with the Human Capital Office from above;” (3) “Please describe the specific services (hiring) you experienced and why you gave them the above rating;” and (4) “Based on your role as a customer of the Human Capital Office, please rate your satisfaction with the following: Ease of transactions, Knowledge level of service providers, General satisfaction with interactions, and General experience as a customer.”

CORRECTIVE ACTION: ​On February 1, 2022, we sent the Human Capital Experience Customer Survey to all IRS employees. This is part of a larger Service-wide effort to measure the effect employee engagement has on customer satisfaction. The survey included questions about hiring process experiences for managers and employees. Questions included: (1) “Please rate your experience with the Human Capital Office related to Hiring (searching and/or applying for a job, receiving a job offer, getting hired, onboarding);” (2) “Were you able to find the information you needed (e.g. forms, policy or guidance) to support your experience with the Human Capital Office from above;” (3) “Please describe the specific services (hiring) you experienced and why you gave them the above rating;” and (4) “Based on your role as a customer of the Human Capital Office, please rate your satisfaction with the following: Ease of transactions, Knowledge level of service providers, General satisfaction with interactions, and General experience as a customer.”

TAS RESPONSE: It is encouraging that the IRS agrees to implement this recommendation in part, and TAS hopes to see the results of this data better inform HCO hiring and training strategy.

Update: Appears IRS is analyzing the results of the survey. TAS would like to see the results upon completion.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): Ongoing

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10.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-10

The IRS continue to work with OPM to maximize IRS hiring capacity by ensuring systemic capabilities will meet demand (in OPM’s capacity as owner of the USAS program); by providing a full range of hiring authorities and flexibilities (as allowed under OPM statutory authority); and by advocating with OPM for electronic signature approval for health benefit forms.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​​​The Human Capital Office (HCO) is currently partnering with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to pursue system enhancements to USA Staffing, including enhancing bulk functionality. Additionally, HCO is working with Department of the Treasury and OPM to interconnect USA Staffing and HR Connect to allow applicant data flow to and from each system to decrease pre-screening timelines. IRS leverages a full range of hiring authorities and flexibilities, including but not limited to merit promotion, delegated examining, Veterans’ and Schedule A appointing authorities, reemployed annuitants, Pathway Recent Graduates and Presidential Management Fellows, transfers and reinstatement. The current COVID-19 Evacuation Order allows for temporary electronic signature. Once the order is lifted, all forms revert back to standard wet signature forms. In February 2022, Human Resources Shared Services submitted a request to OPM to implement electronic signatures permanently. Additionally, HCO is working with Department of the Treasury and OPM to interconnect USA Staffing and HR Connect to allow applicant data flow to and from each system to decrease pre-screening timelines.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: ​The Human Capital Office (HCO) is currently partnering with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to pursue system enhancements to USA Staffing, including enhancing bulk functionality.

TAS RESPONSE: We hope that these efforts will help maximize IRS’s hiring capacity and ensure systemic capabilities will be able to meet the IRS’s hiring demand, and that HCO continue monitoring these efforts and assess improvements made. We also hope that HCO will share the results of these continuing efforts so that we can see the results and assess improvements made.

Update: IRS has implemented this recommendation.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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11.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-11

The IRS continue to work with Treasury to advocate for a Department of Homeland Security policy change to allow agencies to permanently inspect I-9 documents virtually rather than in person.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​Due to precautions associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. DHS extended this policy until December 31, 2021. IRS submitted a request to DHS through the Department of the Treasury to continue with virtual inspection of Form I-9 permanently.

This recommendation has already been implemented.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A, already implemented

TAS RESPONSE: We hope that DHS accepts the request to continue with virtual inspection of Form I-9 permanently rather than in person, to help streamline the IRS hiring processes.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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12.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-12

The IRS continue to request Congress provide permanent funding to increase HCO’s authorized staffing plan to cover workload throughout the entire employment lifecycle, including securing funding to dual encumber positions to transfer knowledge from employees scheduled to retire, when needed.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​In Fiscal Year 2021, Human Capital Office (HCO) was given the authority to hire an additional 250 employees in anticipation of increased hiring activities due to possible increased funding levels at the IRS. HCO is working closely with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to identify critical staffing needs related to hiring, has submitted needs through the existing exception hiring process and expects those resources to be made available in FY 2022. Department of the Treasury released its FY 2023 Congressional Justification budget request, which includes 49 additional positions for HCO.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: HCO is working closely with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to identify critical staffing needs related to hiring, has submitted needs through the existing exception hiring process and expects those resources to be made available in FY 2022. Department of the Treasury released its FY 2023 Congressional Justification budget request, which includes 49 additional positions for HCO.

TAS RESPONSE: It is encouraging that HCO agrees to implement this recommendation and will work closer with the CFO to identify critical staffing needs and that it will continue its request for permanent funding. TAS stands ready to assist with these efforts where we can. We will continue to advocate for additional funding and resources for the IRS on these fronts, as the issues are important and need to be meaningfully and quickly addressed.

Update: IRS has completed what TAS requested. Now it will depend on whether Congress approves the Department of the Treasury FY 2023 Congressional Justification budget request.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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13.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #2-13

The IRS, in developing its training program, work with outside accounting firms, law firms, and other large organizations to learn best practices.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​​If funding permits, the IRS will engage with outside stakeholders, accounting firms, law firms, and other large organizations, to obtain best practices for development into IRS training programs when applicable.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: ​If funding permits, the IRS will engage with outside stakeholders, accounting firms, law firms, and other large organizations, to obtain best practices for development into IRS training programs when applicable.

TAS RESPONSE: We hope that HCO will be able to acquire the needed funding to learn about these best practices. We believe some of these activities, particularly reaching out to outside organizations to learn from them, can still be done without the need for additional funding. When the IRS does engage in these efforts, we hope it will share the results with TAS.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Open

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): 12/31/2022

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