The Internal Revenue Service is not adequately managing its software licenses and not adhering to federal requirements and industry best practices for software used on desktop and laptop computers, according to a new government report.

The report, released Tuesday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that the IRS is not adequately performing software management and is not adhering to federal requirements and recommended industry best practices. For example, the IRS does not have enterprise-wide or local policies, procedures and requirements for software license management.

The IRS's User and Network Services organization was unable to provide TIGTA with essential licensing records for properly managing the licenses on 24 of 27 software products reviewed during TIGTA's audit. The UNS organization also could not provide licensing agreements for 23 products, documentation for the number of licenses purchased for 15 software products, and license deployment documentation for seven software products.

Computer software is typically protected by federal copyright law, which requires users of software programs to have a license authorizing their use. Software licenses are legal rights to use software in accordance with the terms and conditions specified by the copyright owner.

TIGTA conducted its audit to determine whether the IRS is adequately managing software licenses on laptop and desktop computers. The report found that the IRS does not have specialized software license tools designed to be the repository for software and software license deployment. These tools should be used to discover, track, manage and detect inactive usage of software. Finally, the IRS does not have an accurate inventory of software and related licenses that contains licensing models applicable to each software product which links data on the licenses purchased and deployed with the purchase costs, procurement information, and monitoring and usage data.

“Efficient and cost-effective management of the IRS’s software assets is crucial to ensuring that information technology services continue to support the IRS’s business operations,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “Our recommendations are intended to help the IRS provide efficient service to taxpayers.”

TIGTA recommended that the IRS develop policies and guidance along with roles and responsibilities for managing software assets and licenses; implement a specialized software license management tool and develop detailed standard operating procedures for using the tool; develop an inventory of software licensing data and maintain the inventory with a specialized software licensing tool; and maintain data in the inventory to more effectively manage software spending.

In response to the report, IRS officials agreed with all six recommendations, with slight modifications to four of them, and stated that they plan to take corrective actions. The IRS plans to use best practices to develop enterprise-wide software license management policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities; identify and implement a standard enterprise toolkit with standard operating procedures for the management of software licenses; and collect software inventory data from the toolkit in a central repository.

“Our current focus is to charter an Enterprise Software Governance Board (ESGB) to provide oversight and decision making on both Enterprise Software License Management and the strategy and approval process for new and existing software license applications,” wrote IRS chief technology officer Terence V. Milholland in response to the report. “We believe a standard enterprise approach will lead to more success and savings in the future.”

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