NSA Meeting Scheduled with IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti
On December 18, NSA President Ralph McBride, Executive Vice President Bill Mathisen, Right to Practice Vice Chairman William Stevenson, committee member Bryan Gates, and NSA Tax Manager Bernie Phillips are scheduled to meet privately with Charles Rossotti, the Commissioner of the IRS. The agenda for this meeting was developed in discussions with the Commissioner's staff.
The IRS has restated its mission to emphasize service and has followed up by developing a "Balanced Measurement System" (BMS) that is designed to determine if the agency is achieving its predetermined "service oriented" goals. NSA applauds and supports the IRS reform efforts being led by Commissioner Rossotti. BMS is central to reform and essential to establishing "service" as the mission of the IRS. In this spirit, NSA offers the following comments on the BMS, which is a critical part of the agenda for the Commissioner's meeting.
Reform Depends on Individuals
Congress creates tax law and IRS employees constitute the IRS. The IRS is its employees-all of its employees. As the quality of the staff improves, so does the Agency. The effectiveness of the programs, structures and systems developed by the staff is a function of the quality of the staff Properly trained, educated and appropriately informed staff members tend to produce quality programs. A balanced measurement system does not substitute for staff development when trying to change the culture of the IRS.
The concept of "staff development," therefore, should be part of the fabric of employee appraisal and organizational evaluation. Measurement is not an end to itself but rather a means to an end-to improve the quality of the work force and to improve the system being measured. The mere existence of data will not improve the process or even cause anything to change. Measurement results must be placed in the hands of those individuals who can affect change. Who gets the information is more important than the information itself. It is one thing to collect measurement data and yet another to effectively deploy the information to promote positive and constructive change.
Agency Supports Individual Growth
A quality program of staff development requires a commitment to the concept that the organization is going to accept some responsibility for individual growth. Employees should be required to participate in training and orientation programs that address the Commissioner's and the nation's expectations of the Service employees. This includes specific training on the 1998 Reform and Restructuring Act and its mandate that the Service reforms itself into a service oriented federal agency. Good things happen when employees make them happen. Successful reorganization depends upon the actions of individuals. The orientation program should be formalized-perhaps concluding with a graduation ceremony.
Furthermore, the education of staff needs to be formalized into an ongoing program and a minimum number of hours of continuing education should be an annual requirement of all IRS personnel. Such an educational program would help veteran employees address the process of change. It will also provide a means to indoctrinate new employees into the ways the Service intends to satisfy the service orientation mission mandate. After all, everyone must realize that organizational change is going to elicit reactions from those who identify with the past. A properly designed educational program will help these employees address what was and what should be. A good support system will find out where each employee is and then design a program to help move him or her along.
Balanced Measurement System Development Process
"In Phase I, a measures team is convened and includes national office staff field personnel and union representatives."
A fundamental premise of the IRS' Balanced Measurement System (BMS) is that its "customers" should drive it. …