1.4.11  Field Assistance Guide for Managers (Cont. 1)

1.4.11.11 
Qmatic

1.4.11.11.1  (01-01-2014)
Wait Time

  1. Field Assistance established various measures and key indicators to determine the quality of service that FA provides to taxpayers. An important key indicator is the time frame in which services are provided and the time taxpayers spend waiting in TACs for this service. Employees and managers should make every effort to begin service to taxpayers within 30 minutes of arrival without jeopardizing quality.

  2. The following are recommendations that will assist in controlling the traffic and preventing taxpayer service delays in a TAC:

    • Express Lane Services (ELS) - ELS allows taxpayers with quick, transactional service tasks (e.g., noncash remittances, transcripts, return drop off, localized TAC demand, etc.) to bypass IAR screening and receive immediate assistance. Through the use of roping and signage, ELS routes eligible taxpayers to a dedicated workstation with an available ITAS.

    • Gating - Look for patterns in traffic and reset the priorities if necessary. Gating is defined as priorities and assigning Qmatic categories.

    • Employees should also inform taxpayers of the estimated wait time.

    • Lunch Time Scheduling - Stagger lunch times so there is the maximum coverage possible.

    • Off Counter Duties - Consider not allowing employees to perform "off counter" duties (i.e., Referrals, CENTRA, etc.) during peak periods.

    • Effective Qmatic Use - Utilize Qmatic Management Screens and Reports to identify taxpayers service delays are beginning to occur and take necessary action. Some reports that may be used are Work Station Performance, Work Station Report Daily, Weekly (Under Wait Time), Taxpayer Flow Workdays Overview, and Taxpayer Flow During a Day.

    • If the TAC manager determines that a high number of taxpayers are waiting in one Qmatic category with high "wait time" , he or she may consider "gating" additional employees to that category as needed.

      Note:

      For further information on how to access http://win.web.irs.gov/field/field_q-matic.htm reports go to the FA Insider.

  3. Managers should display Pub 5002, Closing Early - No More Tickets Will Be Issued Today near the close of the day if it is determined the TAC cannot serve additional customers and there is a need to stop issuing tickets. The sign will be displayed no more than two hours before closing.

  4. Headquarters issues weekly national wait time information in the weekly score card to the Director, Field Assistance and Area Directors. These reports show data uploaded into Business Objects from Qmatic. They identify, by category, peak and non-peak traffic patterns.

  5. The wait time information data is located in reports uploaded from Business Objects Environment (BOE). Reports from BOE generate information for the weekly score card such as:

    • National wait time percentage

    • Number of TACs that had 20 percent of their taxpayers wait 30 minutes or greater

    • Percentage by activities waiting greater than 30 minutes

  6. Managers may use the Wait Time Strata by Activity Report, Snapshot Monthly TAC Level Report, and other reports in BOE as determined by the Area Analyst to analyze individual TAC data for traffic management and planning purposes. For further information refer to the http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/jobaids/Traffic_Mgmt_Guideline.pdf on the FA Insider.

1.4.11.11.2  (01-01-2014)
Qmatic Ticket Process

  1. All Field Assistance Group Managers will use a standard process for explaining the use of the Qmatic system.

    1. All Sites - Group Manager sets Qmatic priorities based on available employees, number of appointments, and expected traffic.

    2. Taxpayer enters TAC and selects a Qmatic ticket or an Initial Assistance Representative (IAR)) assists the taxpayer in selecting a ticket.

    3. All taxpayers waiting for service in a TAC with full Qmatic should receive Pub 5006, While You are Waiting which explains the Qmatic numbering system and the routing process.

    4. Group Managers may assign an Individual Taxpayer Advisory Specialist (ITAS) a specific priority code based on the type of service he/she will provide by setting the Qmatic Priority for the assigned ITAS workstation.

    5. Group Managers should gate a workstation to assist taxpayers making payments with notices, vouchers and taxpayers wanting to pick up blank forms. The IARs first priority is always to ensure taxpayers have received a Qmatic ticket. The IAR should assist those taxpayers needing assistance with payments or forms when there is no line (taxpayers).

    6. Group managers should ensure IARs offer FSA (Facilitated Self Assistance) as an option for assistance in TAC locations with FSA Stations.

1.4.11.11.3  (01-01-2014)
Automated Reports

  1. Managers have the option of configuring Q-Win software to automatically print reports. Configuration of these reports must include the following guidelines:

    • Reports will be scheduled to print between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

    • Do not configure the software to save the results as a file (html, jpg, gif, etc.)

    • Reports must be set to print to an actual hard copy printer. Reports will NOT set to print an Adobe or Microsoft image files.

    • Do not set filters to print individual employees or workstations (this may result in inaccurate data)

    • Refer to the http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/FA_Systems_Guide_GMs.pdf for assistance in setting up automated reports.

1.4.11.11.4  (01-01-2014)
Adding Employees on Staff Registration

  1. Each FA employee must have a valid Qmatic user account. Non-FA employees will NOT be added to Qmatic.

    Exception:

    Area or HQ employees as well as employees with EUES may use default accounts for testing purposes.

  2. Before adding new users, all existing users must be logged out of Q-Next.

  3. Each employee will be entered into the employee registry using the following format:

    1. User’s first and last name and standard employee identifier (SEID) (First letter of each name is to be capitalized and enter First Name then last name no commas – SEID listed all lowercase)

    2. User’s SEID (all lowercase)

    3. Last 4 digits of IRS badge number (must be numeric only)

    4. Check box. Must change password during next logon

    5. Fields for Button Name and Priority must be left blank

  4. Refer to the http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/FA_Systems_Guide_GMs.pdf for assistance in adding staff members.

1.4.11.12  (11-01-2010)
Communicating Effectively

  1. TAC Group Managers should possess good communication skills that are essential in engaging employees in the discussion of issues that directly impact their performance and duties.

  2. TAC Group Managers should establish and maintain effective lines of communication both internally and externally. Additionally, they should ensure that all appropriate information is disseminated to the TAC employees and any employees that provide backup assistance.

  3. Oral communication should be expressed in a precise and meaningful manner.

  4. Whenever possible, Group Managers should communicate with their employees in person.

1.4.11.13  (01-01-2014)
Field Assistance Training Program

  1. Field Assistance has established a Training Program to identify, develop and deliver training to all Field Assistance employees including analysts, managers, clerical/administrative staff and TAC employees. Training delivery varies based on several factors including efficiency and cost effectiveness. Training delivery methods include CENTRA, DVD, Virtual Classroom, Continuing Professional Education (CPE), Self-Directed Learning Modules (SDLM), Group Meetings or Classroom. All Field Assistance employees (including all levels of management) are required to complete Mandatory Briefings. Mandatory Briefings include Information Systems Security, Physical Security and Emergency Preparedness, Information Protection and Disclosure, and UNAX (Unauthorized Access). Form 11370, Certification of Annual UNAX Briefing, must be completed and forwarded to the next level of management.

  2. With limited exception, no training will be held during the filing season. Exceptions must be approved by the Director, Field Assistance. However, all Areas may conduct new hire training in January.

1.4.11.13.1  (01-01-2014)
Field Assistance TAC Employee Training

  1. To help ensure employees working in TACs receive training, ITAS and IAR curriculums were created.

  2. ITAS and IAR employees must attend Continuing Professional Education (CPE) each year. Contact the area Training Analyst for additional information.

  3. Employee training history should be kept up-to-date on the Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS).

  4. To add, correct, or update information in an ELMS learning history, refer to the http://hco.web.irs.gov/devtrain/CDS/ProcedurestoUpdateForm12201.html website for instructions on how to complete Form 12201 , Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS) Learning/Teaching History. The manager needs to:

    1. Ensure both employee and manager has signed and dated Form 12201.

    2. Ensure proof of completed learning activities is attached to the ERC ticket (manager or employee may submit the ticket).

    3. Forward a copy of the fully completed Form 12201 to the Territory Lead OJI.

1.4.11.13.1.1  (01-01-2014)
On-the-Job Training (OJT)

  1. OJT will be provided to develop employee knowledge, skills, and abilities to deliver quality service to TAC taxpayers. This Program is essential in providing excellent service to taxpayers.

  2. OJT will be up to half the number of hours as the corresponding formal training class. For example, a training class that is 40 hours would allow for up to 20 hours of OJT.

    Note:

    The number of OJT hours may need to be increased depending on the number of e-learning courses required to be completed after the classroom training.

    Example:

    The Non-Filing Season Apprentice 1 class has 156 hours of e-learning and 59 hours of classroom time with up to 29.5 hours of OJT. The e-learning courses will not be able to be completed in 29.5 hours.

  3. If areas conduct new hire training in January, they must allow OJT after students attend training. Each Territory will assign one experienced On-the-Job Instructor (OJI) with both Classroom Instructor Training Class (CITC) and On-the-Job Instructor Training as the Territory Lead OJI. The Lead OJI will devote up to 25%-30% of their time; with limited amount of time during filing season.

  4. Lead OJI will be competitively selected. The Lead OJI assignment will be for a period of up to 24 months to allow for training and adjust to their new responsibilities. At the Areas discretion, the Lead OJI positions may be announced on a rotational schedule.

  5. Areas have the discretion to set up a cadre or a Lead OJI per Territory depending on their needs, allowing flexibility to do either depending on circumstances at the time the Lead OJI position(s) are announced.

  6. OJIs are to conduct non-evaluative EQRS reviews during the OJT period.

1.4.11.13.1.1.1  (01-01-2014)
Territory Lead OJI Responsibilities:

  1. Consult with the Area Training Analyst to establish the list of Trainees ready for OJT.

  2. Assist Managers and OJIs to develop individualized OJT Plans for each trainee based on Instructor Feedback in the OJT Guide and student identified opportunities for improvement.

  3. Develop exercises and examples that can be made available to FA Training.

  4. Provide backup and assistance to Territory OJIs as necessary.

  5. Attend Training Analyst conference calls for all Lead OJIs and conference calls for instructors, OJIs and Managers following each classroom training class.

  6. Ensure a copy of Form 12201 is received from each trainee who has completed OJT and forward a copy to the Area Training Analysts.

1.4.11.13.1.1.2  (04-24-2013)
Group Manager Responsibilities:

  1. Group Managers will provide On-the-Job Instructors (OJI) appropriate time to work with assigned trainees. Managers should assign OJI responsibilities only to an ITAS with knowledge of the topics covered in the course material and formal OJI training. OJIs who have not had a coaching assignment in the past two years will be required to be recertified.

  2. Group Managers are required to ensure that every trainee who attends formal training is provided timely OJT that follows prescribed requirements.

  3. Group Manager OJT requirements are to:

    1. Use the OJT checklist for each trainee.

    2. Assign an OJI to each trainee prior to completion of formal training and inform Area Training Analyst of assigned OJI.

    3. At the manager's discretion, attend Area Training Analyst conference calls with the OJIs and the classroom instructors to discuss how the formal training was delivered and any problems encountered.

    4. Use the OJT Administrative Guide, OJT Toolkit, Development Guide and OJT Workbook to deliver OJT Program within the group.

    5. Develop an OJT Plan for each trainee with the OJI to ensure that OJT will target the right topics and be delivered effectively. The OJT Plan can be found embedded in the OJT Checklist.

    6. Schedule uninterrupted time for both the OJI and trainees to complete the OJT plan including completion of any required e-learning courses.

    7. Ensure the OJI is completing non-evaluative EQRS reviews during the OJT period.

    8. Assess each trainee’s skills and provide them with a Certificate of Proficiency letter once required skills have been obtained. The Certificate of Proficiency grants the trainee permission to answer taxpayer’s questions on the certified topics. This marks the completion of OJT. Certificate of Proficiency should be placed in the EPF until updated.

    9. Any trainee that is not certified to answer a topic at the end of OJT must complete additional work on the topic under the GM's supervision.

1.4.11.13.1.1.3  (04-24-2013)
Area Training Analyst Responsibilities:

  1. Area Training Analysts will support delivery of the On-the-Job Training (OJT) Program in the Area per established Guidelines detailed in IRM 1.4.11.13.3.3.

  2. Area Training Analysts will have additional oversight responsibilities for the OJT program:

    1. Conduct conference calls with classroom instructors, OJIs, and Trainees’ Managers to discuss OJT needs by topic for each class conducted in the area.

    2. Maintain area information on OJT SharePoint site.

    3. Ensure all Form 12201s are input to ELMS.

    4. Conduct conference calls with Territory Lead OJIs to support ongoing OJT and to discuss improvements to the OJT program.

    5. Support the OJT level 1, 2, and 3 evaluations distribution by analyzing data and application for OJT improvement.

    6. Coordinate with Group Managers to ensure Subject Matter Experts (SME) update the OJT SharePoint site. As courses are updated/developed, additional time (post development) will be provided for the SMEs who participated in the course update/development to revise documents on the SharePoint site accordingly.

1.4.11.13.1.1.4  (05-05-2011)
Territory Manager Responsibilities:

  1. Each Territory Manager is accountable for ensuring their employees attending formal training are provided with timely OJT that follow prescribed requirements.

  2. Territory Managers are responsible for ensuring that their territory has a Territory Lead OJI and that the Lead OJI performs the duties prescribed above.

  3. Territory Managers are responsible for reporting to the Area Director quarterly (no later than the 15th day of the month following the close of the quarter) the status of their employees who have received training and OJT from the previous quarter using the http://win.web.irs.gov/field/FA_Manager_Toolkit.htm.

  4. If a territory employee does not receive the OJT training as prescribed, the Territory Managers will discuss with the Group Manager the requirements of the OJT program and determine when the OJT for the employee will be completed.

1.4.11.13.1.1.5  (04-24-2013)
Area Director Responsibilities:

  1. Each Area Director is accountable for ensuring that every employee who attends formal training is provided with timely OJT that follows prescribed requirements.

1.4.11.13.1.2  (01-01-2013)
Directed Learning

  1. Field Assistance Group Managers are required to provide up to one hour of uninterrupted time each week for technical employees (e.g., CSR and ITAS) in Taxpayer Assistance Centers for directed learning of technical issues, mini-training sessions, or read time. http://serp.enterprise.irs.gov/databases/learning.dr/sdlm.dr/field_asst_toc.htm have been developed for this purpose..

  2. Time allotted for directed learning can also be used to cover other training needs identified by Quality Review results, as well as policy, procedural, and technical changes made during the year.

1.4.11.13.2  (01-01-2014)
Training for Field Assistance Group Managers

  1. Field Assistance Group Managers (GM) must be trained in Field Assistance policies, procedures, and systems to effectively manage a TAC. All Field Assistance GMs are required to complete the "Managing A TAC" course. GMs should also plan to complete the "Filing Season Readiness Workshop for Field Assistance Managers" .

1.4.11.13.3  (01-01-2013)
Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The following discusses the roles and responsibilities to develop, update, review, and deliver training material. Project leads, Program Analysts, and Training Analysts all have vital roles in ensuring quality training material exists and is taught in the most efficient and effective manner.

1.4.11.13.3.1  (07-14-2010)
Project Leaders

  1. Project Leaders are responsible for ensuring quality training material is developed and delivered for the projects they lead. Below is a list of required duties. Additional duties may be added by the Director, Field Assistance (DFA) as needed.

    1. Submit justification for all resource requirements for Director, Field Assistance approval i.e., equipment, travel, tools, training, course development needs, etc.

    2. Request for Program and/or Training Funding must be submitted when forming projects.

    3. The headquarters Training Analyst should be notified of all projects prior to developing any training needs.

    4. Develop and monitor project training plan and expenditures. This includes verifying timely, accurate input of travel authorizations and vouchers.

      Note:

      Ensure that reporting instructions, travel authorizations and vouchers have the correct funding codes. Each voucher must contain the assigned Internal Order Code. Contact the headquarters Budget Analyst if an Internal Order Code is needed.

    5. Provide training plan, delivery and expenditure updates to Budget Analyst.

    6. Identify new and revised course development needs, including Job aids.

    7. Identify number of SME(s) needed for course or job aid development.

    8. Brief the Director, Field Assistance on project status.

    9. Identify outsource training needs.

    10. Consult with Field Assistance headquarters Training and Budget Analysts for guidance as needed

    11. Adhere to off-site training approval requirements, including cost comparisons.

1.4.11.13.3.2  (01-01-2014)
Field Assistance Headquarters Training Analyst

  1. Field Assistance headquarters Training Analysts are responsible for overall oversight of the Field Assistance training plan. Below is a list of required duties. Additional duties may be added by the Director, Field Assistance (DFA) as needed.

    1. Coordinate efforts to assess Field Assistance training needs. Once the Learning Product Development Plan (LPDP), Training Needs Assessment (TNA) document, and Training Delivery Plan are approved by the Director, Field Assistance, they must be timely submitted to CARE.

      Note:

      DFA must approve and sign these documents.

    2. Get input for TNA projections/development from the following sources:
      -Quality reports,
      -ELMS employee history,
      -Area Training Analysts,
      -Headquarters Program Analysts for new workload (new ITAS work, new project, etc.), and
      -DFA for priority needs.

    3. Incorporate Project spending and training development plan into overall FA Training Plan.

    4. Issue final training delivery plan and LPDP with Project Managers, Area Training Analysts, and Learning and Education (L&E) Project Manager.

    5. Submit quarterly training requests to Strategy and Finance (S&F) for Wage and Investment (W&I) and/or Treasury approval.

    6. Monitor and update DFA on training plan changes in scope, timelines or deliverables. Send copies to W&I, L&E and Area Training Analysts.

    7. Keep DFA and appropriate staff informed of emerging issues, non-adherence to procedures that may jeopardize budget reports, etc.

    8. Review classroom evaluation data in ELMS for course improvement needs. This information must be provided to W&I L&E and/or SMEs for course development.

    9. Create email to solicit for bi-annual SME cadre for DFA distribution. The Statement of Interest document was developed for this purpose.

      Note:

      SMEs should primarily consist of GS-11 employees. GS-9 employees may also be utilized. If GS-9 employees are the majority, Director, Field Assistance must be notified immediately.

    10. Develop Instructor solicitation template and requirements.

    11. Request new Internal Order codes for courses from Finance if needed.

    12. Coordinate with FA headquarters Budget Analyst prior to revising budget (including changes to approved training allocations, moving training from one area or date to another, etc.). Include affected Area Analyst in coordination if appropriate.

    13. Ensure FA headquarters Budget Analyst posts the IFS report to the U-Drive. All budget reports will be developed using this IFS report.

    14. Coordinate annual Training Analysts conference/training.

    15. Reporting due dates for the year are established by the FA headquarters Budget Analyst.

1.4.11.13.3.3  (01-01-2014)
Area Training and Budget Analysts

  1. Field Assistance Area Training and Budget Analysts are responsible for overall oversight of the Field Assistance training plan for their area. Assignment of the duties is determined by the Area Director (AD). Below is a list of required duties. Additional duties may be added by the DFA or AD as needed.

    1. Coordinate efforts to assess Area training needs. Training needs are submitted to headquarters for consolidation. The following sources should be used to help determine Area training needs: Quality reports, ELMS employee history, and Field input.

    2. Provide guidance and support on training issues to all field managers and employees.

    3. Establish contingencies for other training needs in advance that will be implemented if there is a budget surplus.

    4. Serve as Area training point of contact.

    5. Serve as host for classes. Host duties include the following: Create roster for hosted classes, share roster with impacted Area Training Analysts, and post the final roster to the U-drive.

    6. Evaluate training classes (budget permitting) and review evaluations. Suggestions to improve future classes should be shared with the headquarters Training Analyst.

    7. Ensure evaluations are received from instructors at the end of each class and provided to Centralized Delivery Services (CDS) for ELMS input.

    8. Ensure class registration is input into ELMS by CDS. If not, notify CDS point of Contact.

    9. Verify travel authorizations are input prior to students attending class and accurate travel codes are used.

    10. Verify travel vouchers are input within 5 days after class completion and accurate travel codes are used.

    11. Maintain a current list of instructors, SMEs and OJIs for the Area.

    12. Ensure all employees receive training required by the job classification. Use the curricula to help determine training gaps.

    13. Coordinate CENTRA sessions, CENTRA orientation for new employees, identify instructors, set up sessions, provide material for sessions, create and maintain roster.

    14. Other duties: Block hotel accommodations as needed, schedule classroom(s), solicit for instructors, develop class roster, revise reporting instructions, complete Form 13167, Request for Centralized Delivery Services Support. Use of non-CMLC space is not recommended. If it is determined that an off-site location is needed, complete and forward to headquarters for approval, a request for approval to use the off-site location and a cost comparison. Ensure developmental guides are received by Group Managers after completion of classroom training.

1.4.11.13.3.4  (01-01-2014)
Group Manager Responsibilities

  1. Group Managers (GM) play a vital role in the Field Assistance Training Program. They must ensure training curriculums are completed for themselves as well as their employees. Below is a list of duties that will help determine training needs.

    1. Review training history in ELMS for each employee. If discrepancies are discovered in the training history, have your employee complete Form 12201, ELMS Learning/Teaching History and follow the procedures in IRM 1.4.11.13.1, Field Assistance TAC Employee Training.

  2. Upon review and assessment take actions to address employee training needs. Action could include:

    1. Schedule E-Learning.

    2. Help employees put into practice training skills learned by assigning them work to reinforce those skills.

    3. Ensure employees receive OJT/OJI support.

      Note:

      OJT is mandatory. See IRM 1.4.11.13.1.1.2, Group Manager Responsibilities.

    4. Ensure employee received additional training for technical classes based on recommendations made by the instructor in the course developmental guide.

    5. Track the completion of directed learning lessons.

    6. Provide Area Training Analyst the employee’s training needs.

  3. Group Managers must monitor training travel for their employees. Actions include:

    1. Ensure travel authorizations are accurately input prior to attending class

    2. At the conclusion of training classes, travel vouchers are submitted for approval and reporting instructions within five business days.

    3. Review travel vouchers for correct funding codes.

    4. Direct any discrepancies or questions to the Area Training Analyst.

1.4.11.13.3.5  (12-27-2011)
Instructor Responsibilities

  1. Instructors should make every effort to ensure classes are effectively and efficiently taught. Students should be actively engaged in each lesson. Additional duties are listed below.

    1. Ensure class roster is received from Area Training Analyst.

    2. Verify student attendance in class for names listed on the roster. If a student does not attend or is replaced, notate this on the roster and notify the Area Training Analyst immediately.

    3. Return verified class roster to Area Training Analyst at the end of the first day of class.

    4. Reinforce the necessity of course evaluations and comments. Class evaluations and comments from students and instructors are used as appropriate during course updates.

    5. Make available and reinforce the use of correct travel codes on travel vouchers.

    6. Reinforce the need for travel vouchers to be filed within 5 days after the travel has ended.

    7. Ensure each trainee receives counseling at the beginning, middle and end of OJT.

    8. Ensure developmental guides are completed for all tested modules.

    9. If any employee conduct issues arise, contact the Area Training Analyst immediately.

1.4.11.13.3.6  (01-01-2014)
Internal Order Codes

  1. Internal order codes will be provided by Strategy & Finance to assist with tracking funding spent within the training program. Only these approved Strategy & Finance codes are to be used when preparing travel authorizations and vouchers for training travel.

1.4.11.13.4  (01-01-2014)
Employee Automated Certification (EAC)

  1. Employee Automated Certification (EAC) was developed to provide a consistent and standardized method of determining if employees are ready for their newly trained assignments. The EAC consists of two assessments: 21 scenario-based technical questions in the applicable area and an audio assessment containing 5 scenarios with 5 questions each.

    Note:

    For each scenario-based and audio assessment, there are "A" and "B" versions containing different assessment questions. The assessments, however, will address the same subject areas.

  2. Field Assistance will begin with the Basic Tax Law certification expanding to separate certifications for Intermediate Tax Law, Advance Tax Law, Accounts and Paper. Usage of the automated certification process will be mandatory for programs requiring employee certification. The requirement will be listed on the ITAS and IAR curricula. Managers will use the EAC to certify newly hired employees and employees receiving skill-up training. The assessment result will be used to target the employee’s On-the-Job training need.

  3. Employees will complete assessment "A" immediately after their classroom and related ELMs learning training is completed. The assessment results will be used to target the employee’s comprehension of the material. Employees, who do not pass assessment "A" will complete assessment "B" immediately after completing their On-the-Job training.

  4. The employee will print the assessment results report upon completion of the assessment. The manager will discuss the scenario-based and/or audio results with the employee and place the results in the employee’s drop file. The assessment results report requires the manager’s and the employee’s signature.

  5. In addition to the assessment, managers are required to perform two non-evaluative reviews to certify the employees’ ability to professionally and proficiently communicate technical information to customers. These reviews must cover the subject/topic in the training the employee just completed.

  6. If an employee does not successfully complete assessment "B" , (both audio and written), the manager is to use the alternative certification procedures outlined in IRM 1.4.11.13.4.1, Alternate Employee Certification.

  7. If an employee’s performance is struggling, the manager can utilize the EAC to identify specific areas needing improvement.

  8. The EAC or Alternate Certification can be used to certify employees hired into Field Assistance who have previous training and work experience in the topics covered in an assessment. At the manager’s discretion, successful completion of the assessment may be used "test-out" of formal training.

  9. Access to the EAC system will be granted by an OL-5081. Employees are required to add their Employee Identification (SEID) and SMART ID or IRS Badge number in the comment section of the OL-5081 request.

  10. Employees are allowed up to 60 minutes to complete each tax law assessment. Employees must complete one written and one audio assessment. Employees that do not complete the assessment within 60 minutes will "time-out" of the assessment and will receive a score.

    Exception:

    Managers may request that the Area Analyst reset an assessment if an employee was interrupted while taking the assessment and did not finish within the 60 minutes. However, this should be rare!

  11. Visually Impaired (VI) users receive up to fifty percent additional time to complete assessments. The Area Site Administrator must select the VI Indicator when adding a VI employee to the system.

  12. If the employee successfully completes the assessment, no further action is required. The employee must receive a score of 80% correct to pass. Employees that do not pass will not take the same assessment again.

  13. Managers can generate reports for an individual employee or for a group, as needed. Territory Managers, Area Analyst and Field Assistance headquarters can generate reports for an individual employee, group, territory, and/or area as needed.

1.4.11.13.4.1  (01-01-2014)
Alternate Employee Certification

  1. Alternate Employee Certification (AEC) is used when an employee does not successfully complete the Employee Automated Certification (EAC) and to certify employees on topics that are not covered in the EAC database.

  2. The manager must meet with the employee to:

    • Review the assessment results report,

    • Provide counseling documentation,

    • Determine a plan of action that will include activities to address the incorrect answers from the assessment.

    Note:

    The documentation provided must include notice to the employee that passing the certification process (EAC or AEAC) is a requirement prior to independent assignment of the work.

  3. Continue with On the Job Training (OJT) using recorded contacts and providing opportunities according to the action plan on the counseling memo. Prepare the employee for certification by completing monitoring sessions and providing immediate feedback with suggestions on how to improve.

  4. AEC involves Contact Recording Monitoring consisting of the following process:

    • A minimum of five (5 contacts total) recorded contacts must be reviewed. If an employee fails one or more reviews, (2) additional reviews must be correctly completed by the employee on the specific assessment topic. If proper contact traffic is not available, Test scenarios may be used (see ITLA training scenarios).

    • The process for using Test Scenarios includes conducting five (5 test scenarios total) test scenarios. If an employee fails one or more test scenarios, two (2) additional test scenarios must be completed correctly by the employee on the specific assessment topic.

    Note:

    The reviews completed are to be non-evaluative reviews to certify the employees’ ability to professionally and proficiently communicate technical information to customers. These reviews must cover the subject/topic in the training the employee just completed.

  5. If an employee does not successfully complete any of the certification assessments, the manager and Territory Manager must meet to determine the next course of action in accordance with applicable Labor Relations (LR) procedures.

1.4.11.14  (11-01-2010)
Field Assistance Engagement Plan

  1. Field Assistance managers will create an engagement plan that defines how they will involve their employees to improve workgroup processes and relationships.

  2. The goal of the engagement plan is to enhance employee participation in improving business measures/results. This will demonstrate to employees that their opinion counts and should result in measurable improvement in a specific business goal, process or problem.

  3. At a minimum, the engagement plan will include:

    • Identification of the problem/process which the workgroup has the ability to control and improve

    • Specifics of how the problem/process is connected to the Survey, Business Plan, and Performance Management System

    • Specifics of how the workforce will be enabled and/or improved

    • Specifics of what will be communicated and how it will be communicated to the workgroup

    • Explanation of how the workforce will be motivated

    • Explanation of how success will be celebrated

    • Timelines

    • Feedback mechanisms, and

    • Quantitative and qualitative measurements.

  4. Managers will conduct workgroup meetings. These meetings will give the manager the opportunity to employ the engagement process, and begin identifying barriers/challenges to improvement, solicit ideas, and create work group buy-in for improvement.

  5. Workgroup meetings will be off-line so that employees in each group can work as a team if it means closing the TAC for the day.

1.4.11.15  (05-24-2012)
Quality Assurance and Review Process

  1. In order to provide quality service to taxpayers, it is imperative that Managers observe employees on an on going basis, and provide timely feedback to enhance their skills.

  2. Effective October 1, 2006 Field Assistance (FA) contracted with the Joint Operations Center’s Centralized Quality Review Section (CQRS) to measure FA Tax Law and Accounts Quality through the use of Contact Recording. The results of the reviews are placed on the National Quality Review System (NQRS) and are valid at the Area level quarterly. Area quality Analysts and Group Managers have access to all reviews and can share them but the results will not be evaluative to the individual employee. Quality reviewers complete the reviews for NQRS.

  3. Since FA quality will be measured with CQRS review results, EQRS no longer has to maintain a statistically valid number of reviews for quality purposes. The number of reviews will be driven by operational considerations, not the quality program. Field Assistance Group Managers will continue to use the Embedded Quality Review System (EQRS) to review counter contacts on tax law, accounts, and return preparation (see the http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/jobaids/1.4.11-9_EQ_QR_Plan.pdf). This system provides managers a data collection template for each contact, with quality attributes tied to the employees critical job elements (CJEs) and the quality measures (accuracy, professionalism, and timeliness), providing an objective, consistent assessment of employee performance. Refer to the http://eq.web.irs.gov/ for more information.

  4. The definition of the product Line reviewed on EQRS is outlined below: The Field Assistance product line includes four Specialized Product Review Groups (SPRGs). They are:

    • FA Return Preparation - Used whenever the contact includes 1040-series direct return preparation or complete 2290 tax return preparation.

    • FA Tax Law - Used whenever the taxpayer contact involves only a pure tax law issue.

    • FA Accounts – Used whenever the employee discloses account information or inputs adjustments.

    • FA Procedural - Used whenever the contact contains a procedural component and does not fit into any of the above SPRGs.

    Note:

    See "What SPRG should I Use for this Review" flowchart on http://eq.web.irs.gov/jo/00Jo7.htm under Field Assistance.

  5. Field Assistance managers must also monitor quality service by reviewing work, other than counter contacts, performed by their employees. Review of this work is not entered into the EQRS database. This may include but is not limited to written referrals, remittance reviews, security checks, time utilization, OJI, and/or teaching assignments. These types of reviews may be documented on Form 6067, Employee Performance Folder Record. The form can be found in the http://publish.no.irs.gov/catlg.html.

  6. Review guidelines should address the following areas:

    • Direct observation (except for written work)

    • Recorded contacts

    • Timeliness of feedback

    • Documentation of results

  7. There are specific embedded quality roles and responsibilities for ITAS/CSRs, Group Managers, Territory Managers, and Area Directors/Quality Analysts. See IRM 1.4.11.27 which outlines the Embedded Quality Roles and Responsibilities.

  8. The primary goal of the Embedded Quality Review System (EQRS) is to enable Group Managers (GMs) to provide employees evaluative, meaningful feedback. Meaningful feedback for taxpayer accuracy is the top priority; this is where Managers will document whether the contact was correct or incorrect. See Exhibit 1.4.11-6, Guidelines for Writing FA EQ Remarks.

1.4.11.15.1  (07-18-2007)
Methods to Achieve Quality Service

  1. TAC Managers need to help employees achieve quality assistance goals. These goals consist of:

    1. Maintaining professional courtesy

    2. Controlling the direction of the contact

    3. Giving accurate and complete assistance

  2. The most effective and efficient way to maintain and enhance the quality of service provided is by monitoring or directly observing the performance of employees.

  3. Routine monitoring using Contact Recording and/or direct observation process allows Managers to:

    1. Determine areas for improvement in a timely manner

    2. Identify the causes of problems

    3. Take necessary actions to resolve problematic situations

    4. Serve as a role-model

    5. Identify training needs

  4. In order to monitor effectively, do the following:

    1. Establish a monitoring plan

    2. Identify performance standards

    3. Develop a monitoring schedule

  5. When analyzing quality service performance trends, consider the following:

    1. Documenting performance trends

    2. Determining performance deficiencies on which to take action

    3. Identifying causes of performance deficiencies

    4. Identifying and implementing solutions

    5. Obtaining and reviewing taxpayer feedback

    6. Identifying training needs

    7. Developing Employee Career Learning Plan Form 10094

1.4.11.15.2  (03-21-2013)
Review Process and Types of Review

  1. The effectiveness of a TAC operation is enhanced by the level of the managers' involvement and commitment to the overall review process.

    • http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/Reports-reviews-certifications.pdf contains a consolidated listing of all reviews, reports and certifications to be performed by the manager.

    • Exhibit 1.4.11-8, Group Manager Mandatory Reviews, Reports and Certifications contains a listing of the mandatory reviews, reports and certifications to be performed by the manager.

    • IRM 1.4.16.5.6, Review of IDRS Adjustments.

    • IRM 1.4.16.5.7, Non-Evaluative or Coaching Reviews.

    • IRM 1.4.16.5.9, Mandatory Reviews for Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order (ATAO).

    • IRM 1.4.16.6, Operational Reviews Overview.

    • IRM 1.4.16.7, Quality Reviews.

  2. Field Assistance Contact Recording (FACR) and/or direct observation are the methods used in monitoring the quality of assistance that employees provide taxpayers.

  3. Managers should ensure this is accomplished in such a way as to cause the least disturbance to the employee and taxpayer.

  4. During direct observation, avoid being drawn into the conversation between the taxpayer and the employee. As much as possible, Managers should attempt to stay in the background.

    Note:

    Initiate a private conversation with the employee to ensure a taxpayer does not leave with inaccurate or incomplete information.

  5. Technical accuracy and timeliness of responses should be evaluated, as well as courtesy and professionalism.

  6. Review written documents prepared by the FA employee to ensure a quality work product. The documents may include but are not limited to:

    • Form 4442, Inquiry Referral

    • Form 3913, Acknowledgment of Returned Refund Check

    • Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order)

    • Form 3244, Payment Posting Voucher

    • Form 2063, Alien Clearance

    • Form 433–D, Installment Agreement

    • Form 2159, Payroll Deduction Agreement

    • Letters/quicknotes to taxpayers

    • Documents pertaining to notice accounts

    • IDRS Adjustments

    • AMS (Account Management Services) documentation

    • Form 809, Receipt for Payment of Taxes

  7. Review administrative documents to ensure they are timely and accurately completed. These include the following:

    • Form 5311, Taxpayer Service Activity Report.

    • Form 3210, Transmittal of Documents (both remittance and non remittance) Document Review Plan – Exhibit 1.4.11-8, Group Manager Mandatory Reviews, Reports and Certifications.

    • Form 795-A, Daily Report of Collection Activity, Document Review Plan – Exhibit 1.4.11-8, Group Manager Mandatory Reviews, Reports and Certifications.

    • RRA 98 Section 3709 Email Tracking Sheet

  8. Qmatic reports provide information regarding types of contact(s), taxpayer waiting time, and time spent per contact. Locations without Qmatic must use Form 6148 or optional Form 13864 to record this information.

    Note:

    Do a periodic matching of information on Form 5311 against information on individual Qmatic report.

  9. The review of Form 3210 will assist in determining the timely forwarding of returns, remittances and Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

  10. TACs where IAR/secretary or managers are located must reconcile Form 795-A of other employees before submission to the appropriate Submission Processing Center. This reconciliation must be completed and not delay the transmission of the remittance packages. Remittance must be transmitted the day of receipt or the next business day.

1.4.11.15.2.1  (03-21-2013)
Embedded Quality Review Plan

  1. Like any other management activity, preparation is the key factor in completing quality reviews. Establishing a review plan is essential.

  2. In developing a review plan, Managers must consider the following:

    • Group Managers’ Embedded Quality (EQ) Responsibilities. See IRM 1.4.11.27, Embedded Quality Roles and Responsibilities.

    • Embedded Quality Review Systems (EQRS) Performance Reviews (PR) are used to measure employee performance.

    • Other work performed by FA employees such as referrals and teaching assignments should be incorporated in the Manager’s review plan.

      Note:

      These reviews are not input into EQRS. Use Form 6067 to document these reviews.

  3. Managers should consider the following requirements as they develop a review plan.

    • Annual appraisals

    • Mid-Year appraisals

    • Departure appraisals, when required

  4. Managers should prepare to complete reviews as efficiently as possible. It is essential that Managers have EQ job aids and technical and procedural reference material readily available for necessary research. See IRM 1.4.16.8.4, Account Management Services (AMS), IRM 1.4.16.8.5, Electronic Online-Output Network System (EONS), IRM 1.4.16.8.6, Control-D, and IRM 1.4.16.8.7, Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS) Reports.

  5. In developing a review schedule, Managers must consider planned meetings, training, remote office visits, and leave.

  6. Schedules should be prepared on a quarterly or monthly basis.

1.4.11.15.2.2  (07-18-2007)
Review Documentation

  1. All reviews should be documented to provide meaningful feedback. It is essential that Managers promptly document and share the contact observed in accordance with the National Agreement to ensure that important details of the direct observation are not forgotten.

  2. Effective documentation is an essential part of the review process. It is the factual basis for feedback to the employee. For EQRS reviews the documentation is entered on a Data Collection Instrument (DCI). There are three sections to enter remarks as follows:

    • Taxpayer Issue(s)

    • Employee Action/Response

    • Summary Feedback

  3. For an EQRS review, use the FA EQRS job aid and the Guidelines for Writing FA EQRS Remarks, to effectively document the review. See Exhibit 1.4.11-6 in this IRM.

1.4.11.15.2.3  (12-01-2005)
Effective Feedback

  1. Timely, continuous feedback is essential in the development of the skills employees will need to provide quality service to taxpayers. Group Managers should:

    1. Engage employees as partners in the identification and resolution of problems.

    2. Maintain and foster open, honest communication.

    3. Celebrate success.

    4. Continually reinforce organizational goals by sharing business results and identifying opportunities for improvement.

  2. Managerial feedback should be timely and identify specific performance.

  3. Managers should have periodic counseling sessions with each employee to discuss his/her progress, self-help techniques, and interpersonal skills with taxpayers.

  4. It is important that Managers share positive as well as negative feedback with the employee in order to:

    1. Focus on the employee's overall job performance by building on strengths and addressing weaknesses.

    2. Develop and reinforce the employee's commitment to Field Assistance operational goals.

    3. Provide support and motivation.

  5. Reinforce positive performance attributes and share feedback in a constructive manner, offering suggestions to ensure corrective measures are taken to improve overall taxpayer service.

  6. Whenever possible, provide feedback in-person. Employees located in outlying TACs may need to be contacted by telephone, followed by written feedback.

1.4.11.15.2.4  (03-15-2012)
Optimizing Field Assistance Tax Law Accuracy

  1. Every employee in Field Assistance, from executive level to the Initial Assistance Representative (IAR), is expected to provide the highest level of quality service possible to each of our taxpayers.

  2. Quality service is defined as courteous and professional behavior, providing correct and complete answers to all taxpayer inquiries within the FA scope of services (including tax law, return preparation, account, and procedural inquiries) and following established referral procedures to assist taxpayers with inquiries beyond the scope of FA services or beyond an individual’s skill level and training.

  3. FA Group Managers play an integral role in achieving quality taxpayer service in our TACs.

  4. In order to achieve quality taxpayer service FA Group Managers should do the following:

    1. Develop and maintain a good working knowledge of all tax law, accounts, and procedural topics within scope and the references available for research for these items.

    2. Develop and maintain knowledge of FA tax return preparation guidelines and procedures.

    3. Develop and maintain knowledge of EQRS (including job aids) and the coding consistency goals for Field Assistance.

    4. Develop and maintain knowledge of the publication method for all in scope tax law inquiries and the procedures for using the Interactive Tax Law Assistant (ITLA) for covered tax law topics.

    5. Complete reviews and share feedback with employees in a timely manner.

    6. Prepare objective documentation. (Do not excuse errors or assume they will not be repeated.)

    7. Communicate effectively and honestly about performance that does not meet fully successful levels.

    8. Work with employees to develop action plans (including completion dates for each activity) that will improve their performance, and ensure that action plans are implemented by the established date.

      Note:

      It is beneficial to attach the action plan to monitoring documentation in the Employee Performance File (EPF)

      .

    9. Use performance documentation as a basis for employee improvement action plans and, if necessary, counseling and/or disciplinary action.

    10. Provide specific topics for each employee in connection with the weekly directed learning activity (up to 1 hour) and track the issues provided and employee progress.

      Note:

      Document directed learning activities recommended for training that are performance related. (For additional information on http://erc.web.irs.gov/DOCS/2002/AWSS/PS/EPFguideformanagers.htm,refer to the Employee Performance File located on the Employee Resource Center webpage at

    11. Have employees conduct directed learning (role-play) sessions within the group.

1.4.11.15.3  (05-04-2010)
Annual Appraisals

  1. All employees who have served the minimum appraisal period of 60 calendar days are entitled to an annual performance appraisal that becomes the rating of record.

  2. Permanent supervisors, complete the annual performance appraisals for employees under their authority.

  3. Bargaining unit (BU) and non-bargaining unit (NBU) employees covered by CJE performance plans are evaluated in accordance with a schedule based on the employee’s last digit of his or her Social Security Number (SSN). The schedule for appraisal periods and due dates is shown in the National Agreement. The following forms are used in this process: BU employees use Form 6850-BU,Bargaining Unit Performance Appraisal and Recognition Election; and NBU covered by CJEs use Form 6850–NBU,Non-Bargaining Unit Performance Appraisal. For additional information, refer to IRM 6.430.2, Performance Management Program for Evaluating Bargaining Unit and Non-Bargaining Unit Employees Assigned to Critical Job Elements (CJEs).

  4. Managers, management officials and confidential Management/Program Analysts are evaluated in accordancewith appraisal periods based on the fiscal year. The following forms are used in this process: Form 12450-A, Manager Performance Agreement and Form 12450-B, Management Official Performance Agreement. For additional information, refer to IRM 6.430.3 , Performance Management Program for Evaluation Managers, Management Officials and Confidential Management/Program Analysts.

  5. To complete the performance appraisal/review process we use e-Performance, a feature of HR Connect. Documents must be in a status of Rating Reviewed/Approved to flow to the National Finance Center (NFC). An employee’s performance award will not be processed unless there is a current appraisal in the NFC system. The e-Performance Guides and job aids are available through http://erc.web.irs.gov/ select Hiring, Training and Career tab, Select Performance Management System.

  6. See Exhibit 1.4.11-9, Performance Appraisal Plan.

1.4.11.15.4  (10-25-2013)
Operational Reviews and Follow-Up

  1. Headquarters staff will conduct reviews of the Area Offices; the Area Offices will conduct reviews of the Territories; and the Territories will conduct reviews of the Groups using the following schedule:

    • Area Leadership Team - Review half of the Territories per year, 3-4 Territories dependent upon the number of Territories in the Area. Areas will review all Territories within a bi-annual basis.

    • Territory Managers - Reviews will be completed for each Group annually.

    • Group Managers - Reviews will be completed quarterly for all TACs supervised. Frequency of program reviews can vary from quarter to quarter, since some programs are required to be reviewed quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Refer to Exhibit 1.4.11-8, Group Manager Mandatory Reviews, Reports and Certifications for program review schedule.

  2. The Director of Field Assistance, on an annual basis, may suggest additional areas of emphasis based on the Program Letter and Commitments.

  3. The reviews at a minimum will include:

    1. Ensuring the accuracy of the responses to the annual review requirements in IRM 1.4.2.11Annual Assurance Review Process.

    2. Review Field Assistance required reviews (e.g., employee appraisals, employee performance reviews, payment processing reviews and physical/data security requirements). See Exhibit 1.4.11-8, Group Manager Mandatory Reviews, Reports and Certifications and http://win.web.irs.gov/field/fadocs/Reports-reviews-certifications.pdf.

    3. Identify actions taken on the yearly Program Letter.

  4. An Operational Review Follow-Up will include a summary of actions described, date to be completed and the responsible official. The review may include best practices that can be shared with others. The follow-up items will be reported until the established monthly reporting processes have been completed.

  5. Use of the Data Collection Instruments (DCIs) are highly recommended when conducting reviews.

1.4.11.15.5  (05-04-2010)
Midyear Progress Review

  1. The supervisor observes the employee’s performance on a regular basis through the employee’s appraisal period and must conduct a mid-year progress review. The review must include a discussion on progress in meeting expectations and discuss each performance aspect whose performance has changed from the previous rating of record.

  2. For additional guidance refer to IRMs 6.430.2, Performance Management Program for Evaluating Bargaining Unit and Non-Bargaining Unit Employees Assigned to Critical Job Elements (CJEs) and 6.430.3, Performance Management Program for Evaluation Managers, Management Officials and Confidential Management/Program Analysts.

  3. The midyear review is documented in HR Connect, e-Performance

1.4.11.15.6  (05-04-2010)
Departure Appraisals

  1. A departure appraisal is a type of appraisal prepared when either the supervisor or employee moves from a permanent or temporary assignment to another permanent or temporary assignment.

  2. Reasons for departure appraisals:

    • Supervisor Departure – If a supervisor departs his or her position, a departure appraisal must be prepared for the employees under the supervisor’s work unit. If the employee being rated is a manager or management official, the departure appraisal will become the employee’s rating of record if the supervisor’s departure occurs within the last 60 days of the employee’s appraisal period.

    • Employee Departure – If an employee departs his or her position, the supervisor must prepare a departure appraisal for that employee. The employee’s departure appraisal will become his or her rating of record if the departure occurs within the last 60 days of the employee’s appraisal period. If not within the last 60 days, the employee’s new supervisor will consider the departure appraisal when preparing the employee's rating of record.

  3. For additional guidance, refer to IRM 6.430.2, Performance Management Program for Evaluation Bargaining Unit and Non-Bargaining Unit Employees Assigned to Critical Job Elements (CJEs) and IRM 6.430.3, Performance Management Program for Evaluation Managers, Management Officials and Confidential Management/Program Analysts.

1.4.11.15.7  (11-01-2010)
Engaging Quality Activities

  1. Engaging employees in the decision making process directly impacts the delivery of taxpayer service and employee satisfaction.

  2. In order to successfully realize and sustain positive business results, Group Managers should collaborate with employees and involve them in problem identification and problem solving.

  3. Key elements to engaging employees are:

    • Motivation

    • Communicating organizational goals

    • Providing employees the necessary tools needed to perform their jobs and disseminating information to positively impact Service goals.

    • Celebrating successes

  4. Group Managers should take time during regularly weekly scheduled group meetings to engage employees in discussions to identify trends.

  5. Refer to the IRS Employee Engagement website for additional information on how to engage employees.

1.4.11.16  (01-01-2014)
Awards and Recognition

  1. Field Assistance is committed to providing a quality work environment that includes recognition of employee performance and contributions.

  2. Two objectives should guide Group Managers and employees in Field Assistance regarding the work environment:

    1. People should want to come to work every day.

    2. People should be motivated to do their best every day.

  3. Group Managers should explore non-traditional means for recognizing superior performance on a daily basis and get feedback from their employees as to what types of recognition would be meaningful in their own groups.

  4. Some guiding principles for employee recognition (based on industry research include):

    1. When good work is observed, the recognition should be as immediate as possible.

    2. Recognition is a two-way process. Managers should recognize good work in employees. Employees should recognize good work from their managers.

    3. Recognition need not be highly structured or expensive.

    4. The bulk of the recognition process should come from the source closest to the employee or manager (i.e., the local or group level).

  5. For guidance on awards and recognition, see http://win.web.irs.gov/hr/hr_awards.htm and http://hco.web.irs.gov/perfmgmt/irstoolkit/index.html.

1.4.11.17  (01-01-2013)
Disclosure/Protection of Taxpayer Information

  1. Be aware of disclosure and security issues at all times. To prevent unauthorized disclosure or breach of security, employees must use caution when accessing taxpayer's information.

  2. Requests for access to taxpayer account information can come from many parties (i.e., taxpayers, authorized representatives, unauthorized individuals, and third parties with legitimate material interest).

  3. See IRM 11.3.2, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest, and IRM 11.3.3, Disclosure to Designees and Practitioners, for discussions and examples of material interest and authorized designees and IRM 21.1.3, Operational Guidelines Overview, for procedures for authenticating taxpayer/designee identities and access to information.

1.4.11.17.1  (01-01-2013)
Media Contacts

  1. The Field Media Relations Specialist serves as the focal point for contacts made by the media. Normally media representatives will contact the Field Media Relations Specialist to make inquiries or to arrange for contacts with other Service officials.

  2. There have been instances where the media representative may come directly to the TAC. In such instances, it is important that the employee contacted refers the media representative to the Field Media Relations Specialist or the http://www.irs.gov/uac/IRS-Media-Relations-Offices---Contact-Numbers

1.4.11.17.2  (01-01-2013)
Compliance with Security Standards

  1. Ensure compliance with the security standards contained in IRM 10.8.1, Policy and Guidance. Additional guidelines can also be found in IRM 21.1.3, Operational Guidelines Overview.

  2. It is important that Managers have a basic working knowledge of security requirements for tax return information, remittances, IDRS passwords, date and disclaimer stamps, and Law Enforcement Manuals (LEM). Minimum security standards for those areas are contained in IRM 10.8.1.5, Technical Controls.

  3. IRS laptop users shall be responsible for securing their laptops at all times. For additional information on protecting data using the Encrypted File System and securing laptops, see IRM 10.8.26, Laptop Computer Security Policy.

  4. Managers are required to conduct one functional security review per quarter for each TAC using Form 12149, Functional Security Review for Managers.

1.4.11.17.3  (01-01-2013)
Disclaimer and Date Stamp

  1. Disclaimer stamps are to be used by Field Assistance (FA) as well as other Service employees to stamp Self Help tax returns, Prepared, but not Audited tax return, and Reviewed, but not Audited tax returns. FA employees should only use the above referenced Disclaimer stamps when a taxpayer submits an original return for processing.

  2. FA employees must date stamp all tax returns secured for processing per IRM 21.3.4.8.1, Date Stamping Tax Returns.

    Note:

    Review joint tax returns for both signatures before acceptance.

  3. FA employees are not required to stamp the taxpayer's copy of his/her return unless the taxpayer specifically makes the request.

  4. All self-help tax returns that are prepared in the TAC and left for processing should be done in accordance with instructions in IRM 21.3.4.8,Receipt of Tax Returns.

  5. The various stamps required within IRM 21.3.4 are:

    Stamp Reference
    United States Treasury IRM 21.3.4.7.1
    Received with Remittance (with date) IRM 21.3.4.8.1
    Received (with date) IRM 21.3.4.8.1
    Proof of Delivery Only Not an Official Receipt IRM 21.3.4.7.1
    Non-Negotiable IRM 21.3.4.12.9
    Void IRM 21.3.4.12.9
    Self-Help IRM 21.3.4.8.6
    Prepared, but not Audited IRM 21.3.4.8.6
    Reviewed, but not Audited IRM 21.3.4.8.6
    Area Director Signature Stamp IRM 21.3.4.18.5
    Optional Stamp Reference
    Electronically Presented IRM 21.3.4.7.1.4.2

    Note:

    Electronically Presented stamp should be in red ink, pre-inked, standard office supply size 1/2″ × 1 5/8″. Font style should be all caps, Arial, bold and size 10.

  6. Ensure eachTAC has date stamps that read "Proof of Delivery Only - Not an Official Receipt" for stamping a photocopy of a check or money order when a taxpayer wants proof of a non-cash payment.

    Note:

    Ensure procedures in IRM 21.3.4.7.2, Cash Payments are followed for accepting cash payments.

  7. The following official IRS stamps must be stored in a locked container when not in use:

    • UNITED STATES TREASURY

    • RECEIVED

    • RECEIVED WITH REMITTANCE

    • PROOF OF DELIVERY ONLY NOT AN OFFICIAL RECEIPT

    • SIGNATURE STAMPS

    Example:

    An employee uses the "RECEIVED" date stamp to assist a taxpayer. After assisting the taxpayer, the stamp should not be left on the desk or on top of a file cabinet. The stamp must be immediately secured in a locked container. A locked container can be a file cabinet, desk drawer or similar metal container secured to the workstation or wall.

1.4.11.18  (11-01-2010)
Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)

  1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The TAS identifies and addresses essential and procedural problems by analyzing the underlying causes to take corrective actions by targeting operational issues that affect taxpayers.

  2. The TAS employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm and are seeking help in resolving their tax problems that were not resolved through normal channels. See IRM 21.1.3.18, Taxpayer Advocate Service Guidelines for TAS criteria.

  3. Each employee should be familiar with TAS referral criteria in accordance with IRM 21.1.3.18, Taxpayer Advocate Service Guidelines.


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