It Will Cost $320 Million to Upgrade The IRS Website

I run this website on commodity hardware sitting in my apartment. Needless to say my costs are negligible and consiste of the server, electricity, and an Internet connection. A larger entity that has mission critical servers running twenty-four hours a day, like Amazon, is going to sink a much larger chunk of change into their infrastructure (at least I hope so). Of course Amazon will establish exact lists of needed upgrades and expansion before going forth because they have to maintain profits. What happens when the Internal Revenue Service (Revenuers) decided to upgrade their site? They claim to need $320 million but submit no actual plan:

IRS’ current $320 million investment for its website includes new, more secure portals so that taxpayers can access more information. The new website is expected to go online in 2013.

However, the IRS needs to be more strategic about exactly what online customer services it intends to improve, and what it hopes to achieve, the GAO said.

“IRS does not have concrete plans that define what additional online services the new website will ultimately provide and how much the services will cost,” the report said. “To their credit, IRS officials have begun developing a roadmap that identifies some online services they would like to provide, and IRS has periodically added new online services in the past. However, the roadmap omits several fundamental elements.“

I guess it costs a lot of money to upgrade a website that exists only to assist in the act of theft from the entire United States populace. It would be nice if we knew exactly why it costs that much money though but the Revenuers must have decided we don’t need to know that. If government agencies had to run like private businesses they would be putting for very detailed plans consisting of exact costs and explain how those costs will provide long-term benefits that exceed those initial costs. Instead the government has a blank check and never has to justify any expenditure. Needing more money isn’t a problem for them because they can simply steal more form the populace in the form of tax increases.

I have a simple demand: if government officials are going to demand that everybody pay their “fair share” of taxes then the government must put forth detailed spending reports that account for every dollar that goes out along with justification for those costs.

For those who want to read the Government Accountability Office’s (you have to love how the government gets to determine its own accountability using its own office) report it can be found here [PDF].