Bringing the IRS out of the Kennedy era


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What you should know today: IRS lacking in IT modernization; tracking social media for security clearances; Bulgaria seeks to sell arms manufacturers.

A Taxing IT Problem
With tax day quickly approaching, you can count on one thing the IRS is definitely not about to do: update its central data hub, which went online in the 1960s.

According to FCW: “The agency still relies on the Individual Master File, which started operating in the early 1960s, for its central data processing needs. The Customer Account Data Engine was supposed to swap current database technology for IMF’s magnetic tape, but the push to replace IMF has slowed to a crawl.”

Until the system is upgraded, the IRS will continue teaching employees the outdatedCOBOL programming language, and will rely on workarounds to link the IMF to other systems. The IRS has had success in other IT areas, such as electronic tax filing and refund tracking.

According to Bloomberg Government’s Budget Request dashboard, the IRS requested $343 million in fiscal 2017 to modernize business systems, 18 percent more than it received in fiscal 2016. But thanks in part to a Republican-controlled Congress, the funds to upgrade the hub never seem to materialize.

Delete That Tweet
The nation’s security clearance process has its flaws, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) wants to strengthen it by closely tracking the social media accounts of people applying for security clearances.

As reported in NextGov: “OPM is looking for companies that can automatically browse ’publicly available electronic information,’ which includes information posted to news and media sites; Facebook, Twitter and other social media postings; blog postings; online court records, updates to photo and video-sharing sites; and information gleaned from online e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay.”

According to the request for information, OPM is looking for automated systems — and if you have this technology, now is the time to respond to the RFI. This pilot program would test whether continuous tracking is feasible — and if it works well, it’s extremely likely to be used to track security clearance holders, not just applicants. RFI responses are due April 15.

Bulgaria Seeks to Privatize Defense Companies
The Bulgarian government wants to sell its two state-owned defense companies in the next few years and use the proceeds to buy new fighter jets to replace Soviet-era MiGs.

As reported in Defense News, “The Cabinet aims to put up two manufacturers for sale: the country’s leading arms maker VMZ Sopot, which is to be privatized in 2018, and arms exporter Kintex, which is to be put up for sale in 2019.”

U.S. contractors looking abroad to make up for lost sales at home should take note: Purchasing a stake in a European arms manufacturer may be one way to enter into Eastern European markets.

The Central European subsidiaries of U.S.-based companies have been among the largest beneficiaries of foreign military sales offset agreements. The Bulgarian government plans to increase defense spending to the NATO target of 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

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