The Internal Revenue Service needs to improve the testing of its new Customer Account Data Engine, according to a new report.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that the IRS has successfully established a testing environment for the performance and capacity of its new CADE 2 system, that is representative of the production environment.  However, it may not have acquired all the information it needs to make a fully informed decision on the ability of the new CADE 2 system to handle workloads, according to the TIGTA report.

The overall objective of TIGTA’s review was to determine whether the IRS is effectively testing the performance and capacity of CADE 2. Built on the foundations of the current Customer Account Data Engine, CADE 2 will allow the IRS to convert the existing weekly individual taxpayer account processing system to daily batch processing.

TIGTA found that the testing environment the IRS has established for CADE 2 is obtaining meaningful data from its pre-production tests. Nevertheless, the IRS did not follow procedures to ensure that performance requirements were completely tested during the final integration test phase.  As a result, according to the report, the IRS may not have acquired all the necessary information to make a fully informed decision on the ability of the CADE 2 system to effectively process transactions under expected normal and peak workload conditions, within acceptable response time thresholds.

TIGTA also found that the IRS needs to develop procedures for access to and retention and maintenance of performance testing artifacts.  The lack of standardization in maintenance of testing artifacts increases the risk that artifacts needed for future review or for use in other development projects may not be available.

“TIGTA found that although the IRS has established a good test environment, the IRS must make additional improvements to its testing system to be able to ascertain the CADE 2 system’s ability to timely handle workloads,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement.“This is important, because the untimely completion of information processing could result in delayed taxpayer refunds and reduced customer service.”

TIGTA made two recommendations, and in response to the report, IRS management agreed with them. The IRS plans to ensure internal controls for testing performance and capacity requirements are formally and effectively implemented to ensure the traceability of these requirements through the performance testing process. This will include the use of automated tools for testing, where appropriate. The IRS also plans to review and, as warranted, develop procedures related to the access to and retention and maintenance of testing artifacts across all test projects.

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