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FCW : September 15, 2016
16 September 15, 2016 FCW.COM The IRS’ e-file pilot program in 1986 became a test case for the technology of electronic filing and the information policies governing its uses. Taxpayers and preparers alike quickly took to the program. In June 1987, 78,000 tax returns from 47 preparers were filed electronically, according to the IRS. By 2011, the program had crossed the 100 million mark in one filing season and racked up 1 billion electronic returns over the life of the program. The success of e-filing helped lay the founda- tion for efforts in the 1990s and 2000s to develop electronic government services that could be offered or accessed via the web — ranging from applying for a passport to bidding on a federal contract. Over time, the IRS introduced features to smooth the customer experience. In 2002, the agency added the option of using a PIN to help authenticate tax documents, a shortcut that ultimately eliminated the need for written signatures and paper returns. A year later, the agency stopped mailing paper tax forms alto- gether after enabling users to download the necessary documents online. Later, an upgrade of e-file — Modernized e-File — adopted XML to streamline the digi- tal formatting necessary for publishing docu- ments on the web. That digitization came with downsides, how- ever. No analog identity thief would have had the truck space to haul away the 700,000 tax- payer records that hackers accessed in 2015 (though that breach involved an IRS system that did not rely on PINs). And the boom in electronic systems and services brought new complications to the agency’s obligation to manage and preserve digital files — challenges that every agency now faces. Last year, the National Archives and Records Administration’s chief records officer, Paul Wester, was asked how agencies should handle content from Facebook, Twit- ter and other new platforms generated in the course of agency business. “Such records are federal records that should be retained in formats that can be elec- tronically retrieved,” Wester said at an industry conference. “Some of this content can have permanent value at the highest level of your agency.” n In 2002, the IRS added the option of using a PIN to help authenticate tax documents, a shortcut that ultimately eliminated the need for written signatures and paper returns. LOPHT.COM 0915fcw_014-022.indd 16 8/23/16 9:33 AM
August 30, 2016
September 30, 2016