22.40.1  Outreach

Manual Transmittal

April 21, 2014

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 22.40.1, Federal, State and Local Governments, Outreach.

Material Changes

(1) Eliminated obsolete material formerly in IRM 22.40.1.6 relating to booth rental procedures and other travel-based outreach activity.

(2) Made changes throughout to reflect emphasis on electronic outreach tools and reduced use of personal appearances, including detailed procedures for phone forums, webinars, and other web-based forms of presentations.

(3) Added procedural information in IRM 22.40.1.3 reflecting new Servicewide procedures for approving expenditures for outreach events.

(4) Changed references in IRM 22.40.1.7 to the outreach "standards" to outreach objectives, to better describe their purpose.

(5) Made editorial changes as needed.

Effect on Other Documents

This section supersedes IRM 22.40.1, Outreach, dated November 1, 2007.

Audience

This section is for FSLG Managers and Specialists and discusses outreach procedures and policy in the Office of Federal, State, and Local Governments (FSLG).

Effective Date

(04-21-2014)

Paul Marmolejo
Director, Federal, State and Local Governments

22.40.1.1  (03-31-2005)
Overview

  1. This section discusses the definition of outreach activities and the role of these activities in accomplishing the mission of FSLG.

  2. Outreach includes customer educational activities, involving voluntary participation by the customer, that have the intention of providing educational information to help customers comply with the tax laws. This includes education directly to customers as well as partnership activities with stakeholders.

  3. Outreach also includes Customer Assistance, discussed in IRM 4.90.2, Customer Assistance at http://irm.web.irs.gov/link.asp?link=4.90.2.

22.40.1.1.1  (03-31-2005)
Stakeholder Outreach

  1. Stakeholder Outreach includes activities with external partners with the intention of establishing cooperative efforts to identify ways to increase compliance of FSLG customers. Examples of stakeholder outreach include meetings with the State Social Security Administrator, the Social Security Administration, practitioner groups or other government agencies.

  2. One goal of outreach is to provide opportunities to establish new partnership relationships and expand existing partnerships. This type of outreach can be used as a tool to remedy systemic or regional noncompliance.

22.40.1.1.2  (04-21-2014)
Customer Outreach

  1. Customer outreach includes activity that provides educational information to a group of customers. Examples of Customer Outreach include conducting workshops, seminars, and attending or participating in customer association conferences and meetings. It also may include Specialist participation in live phone forums or recorded webinars.

  2. Customer outreach is a preferred compliance tool when there is an opportunity to educate and interact with large numbers of customers at once. This is a very useful and effective preventive and remedial tool for systemic and regional noncompliance.

  3. Outreach activity can be a costly compliance remedy due to time expended and travel costs. Therefore, where possible, the use of phone forums, webinars, and other means of electronic communication should be considered. For outreach involving personal travel, it is necessary to consider the following factors:

    • Market segment impact

    • Expected number of attendees

    • Size and scope of the organization

    • Costs such as booth rental, promotional items, and travel expense

    • Impact on potential compliance issues

    • Opportunity to establish or expand partnerships

  4. Depending on the resources available, each market segment within each state should be provided outreach over a reasonable period of time. The primary approach for providing this outreach should be to work cooperatively with the customers, government associations, government practitioners, and IRS stakeholders, participating in conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events.

  5. Pre-filing and filing outreach activities should be the result of an established plan of action for the area for which the Specialist is responsible. Each manager will have a plan or schedule for each state in his or her area.

22.40.1.2  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Selection Process

  1. In general, participation in events sponsored by national associations/organizations will require the approval of the FSLG Director. The FSLG field offices will coordinate events that are regionally or locally sponsored.

  2. The decision to participate in an outreach activity should be based on the potential to support the current strategic work plan and program. CPM analyzes outreach data to identify trends, issues and problems. This process will assist in determining the focus and impact of outreach efforts on compliance. "Cause and effect" analysis of noncompliance will also assist in determining optimal remedies. Data analysis and information gathering from the FSLG customer market segments will determine whether the issue is systemic, regional or local in nature.

  3. Systemic noncompliance indicates that the compliance problem exists broadly within the customer population and may require different remedies. In general, systemic noncompliance will require a planned outreach and educational focus on the targeted customer base. In some cases, direction will be provided by the Field Operations Manager or CPM on a nationwide basis. The noncompliance issues can be identified through historical data analysis at CPM or through information-gathering within the FSLG field group area. A focused outreach plan should be developed to target and correct the systemic noncompliance area.

  4. Regional noncompliance indicates that the compliance problem exists within an isolated subset of a customer population and may cover more than one state or field group area. The FSLG field area personnel can also help identify regional noncompliance and plan outreach activity to increase voluntary compliance in the regional area.

  5. Local noncompliance indicates the compliance problem exists within a small area or with just one customer. It requires that we not only address the problem, but also take action to ensure the problem does not expand. In general, individual field groups will be best positioned to recommend the appropriate outreach activity and follow-up action. Local noncompliance issues may also involve alternative remedies, which would include one-on-one customer assistance activity focused on issues presented by that customer.

  6. Determining whether to use outreach or customer assistance as a tool to improve compliance requires the identification of the type of compliance issue, the targeted and affected customer base, and consideration of time and cost constraints in delivery of the remedy. The goal should always be to maximize increased voluntary compliance while using the most efficient and cost-effective resources.

22.40.1.3  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Planning

  1. The FSLG Specialist is responsible for evaluating outreach needs within an assigned geographical area.

  2. Within a state, outreach and customer assistance may be conducted simultaneously. A plan of action developed by the Specialist should include all these activities, with resources allocated based on the determined needs within the state.

  3. Depending on the nature of the outreach, the activity should be coordinated with appropriate internal and/or external partners. For example, Specialists conducting outreach to a state or local employer regarding a Section 218 issue should consider coordinating the outreach with the State Social Security Administrator and the Regional Social Security Administration office.

  4. Because FSLG shares customers and issues with Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (GLD), Wage and Investment (W&I), Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE), and Exempt Organization and Employee Plans offices of TE/GE, there is often a need for coordination between divisions to ensure customers are served as effectively as possible.

  5. The Specialist must ensure that all required event-related approvals are obtained for all outreach and conference-related events.

22.40.1.3.1  (04-21-2014)
Information Reporting

  1. A major objective of outreach is to promote awareness of information return reporting. This includes federal as well as state and local entities. Studies show that the issuance of an information return greatly increases the likelihood that the income will be reported.

  2. Information reporting is addressed in several archived presentations that can be accessed directly by the public. The Specialist should determine whether these may be appropriate for outreach on this topic.

  3. When Forms 1099 are issued, they are included in the Information Reporting Program (IRP) matching process, thus facilitating the verification that the income was reported and identifying taxpayers that fail to file Forms 1040. Information return reporting is an integral part of ensuring voluntary compliance.

  4. The Specialist should also focus on educating the entity about the errors and gaining future compliance. FSLG maintains an ongoing effort to develop, monitor, and revise programs designed to assist taxpayers in complying with legal requirements, thus avoiding penalties.

22.40.1.4  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Standards

  1. Generally, the FSLG Specialist should respond to a request for outreach assistance within five business days.

  2. The Specialist is responsible for performing outreach activities in a courteous and professional manner.

  3. The Specialist is responsible for making the practical and logistical arrangements necessary to ensure that the presentation can be delivered as planned. This includes contact with local hosting officials concerning the facilities to be used and accommodation of equipment. If the outreach is a phone forum presentation, consult the Phone Forum Desk Guide on SharePoint for considerations in conducting a phone forum.

  4. Outreach presentations should be delivered in a clear, understandable manner appropriate for the audience.

  5. The Specialist is responsible for assembling and ensuring that the materials are distributed to participants at an outreach event.

  6. The Specialist should make participants at an outreach event aware of the availability of individual customer assistance.

  7. For outreach events conducted with other organizations, including other federal, state, or local government agencies, the Specialist will work cooperatively with the representatives of those agencies to develop presentations that most effectively meet the needs of the participants.

  8. The Specialist will review feedback from participants provided either directly or through survey data. This feedback should be incorporated into planning improvements for future outreach events.

22.40.1.5  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Material

  1. It is important for the outreach mission of FSLG to maintain a repository of quality outreach materials for use by FSLG Specialists. Access to this repository can eliminate the need for Specialists to create original products and helps to ensure nationwide consistency in the information presented. A product repository of approved outreach materials for use by any Specialist is maintained on SharePoint in the "Presentations." library.

  2. Outreach products include written guides, fact sheets, charts, publications, slides and graphic illustrations, etc., for distribution or available to the public.

  3. Specialists may use any items in the IRS products catalog, or educational materials posted on www.irs.gov as outreach materials without consulting FSLG Compliance and Program Management (CPM). However, if there is any question as to whether the material is current or appropriate for FSLG audiences, the Specialist should contact CPM.

  4. Specialists who are planning outreach events should consult the FSLG outreach products directory to determine whether an appropriate product is available. Specialists are encouraged to identify areas for which new materials may be needed.

  5. The Specialist should consult CPM if he or she identifies the need to create a new product that requires substantial time to develop.

  6. In some cases, it may be appropriate to create a new outreach product to serve a specific outreach need. Before beginning work on a product that requires substantial time, the Specialist must secure the approval of his or her Field Manager. To ensure consistency, accuracy, and appropriateness, the Specialist must submit any new outreach product to CPM for approval if it contains any unpublished interpretation of tax law or IRS policy information that has not previously been approved by CPM. This applies to products that are adapted from sources other than official IRS products.

  7. Some outreach products, including text and graphic material to be distributed or displayed in face-to-face or electronic presentations, must conform to established TE/GE standards regarding fonts, colors, logos, and other features. These standards ensure a consistent style for all TE/GE presentations. A Specialist preparing an original presentation is responsible for consulting and adhering to these standards. These standards may be viewed on the Electronic Publishing Design Office page at http://publish.no.irs.gov/publish/pp.html on the TE/GE intranet site.

  8. Before using a new product, the Specialist should submit the completed product to CPM for approval. CPM will review for consistency with IRS and FSLG positions, technical accuracy, appropriateness for the audience and editorial standards.

  9. CPM review is not required (but may be requested) for products that contain only general introductory information, local office contact information, or involve only minor changes to established official or approved products.

  10. Products in the FSLG Directory should not be substantially modified or expanded without CPM approval. Excerpts from them can be taken or minor changes can be made (i.e., update annual figures) without specific approval.

  11. In some instances, CPM may request a Specialist to develop, modify, or review an outreach product based on his/her particular expertise in the area.

22.40.1.6  (04-21-2014)
FSLG Outreach Data Capture

  1. FSLG participation in Outreach events is tracked by use of the Reporting Compliance Case Management System (RCCMS) Taxpayer Education Activities. The Specialist should create a Taxpayer Education Activity in RCCMS as soon as possible following approval of the event by management. The Specialist should include the necessary details about the event that will enable the manager to approve the activity in RCCMS. Some information is estimated prior to the event, such as attendee count and cost. Once the event has concluded the Specialist inputs the final numbers and closes the RCCMS Taxpayer Education Activity to the group manager for review and final closure.

22.40.1.6.1  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Activity Codes and Definitions

  1. Outreach activity and project codes are found in Document 11308, Government Entities Computer Systems Codes.

  2. There are seven categories of FSLG Outreach identified below with their corresponding activity codes:

    1. AC 121 – FACE TO FACE EVENTS (formerly Sponsored/Co-Sponsored Events) When an FSLG employee is an active speaker or presenter at an event and has direct contact with customers, attendees or participants at a speech, workshop, panel discussion, presentation, etc.

    2. AC 122 – OTHER OUTREACH EVENTS (formerly Non-Sponsored Events)
      •PHONE FORUMS: Phone forums may be live, FSLG-sponsored telephone conferences as well as those planned and organized by external groups requesting an FSLG speaker. FSLG conducts two types of phone forums, local and national. Local events are created and controlled by the Specialist and are input in RCCMS as an “Other Outreach.” National events are coordinated with CE&O and are not input in RCCMS. The count for national phone forums is obtained from the AT&T operator.
      •OTHER REMOTE OUTREACH: The FSLG employee is not physically in attendance at a live event, but technology allows FSLG to be represented via virtual media. Customers, attendees or participants attend a live scheduled event where participant registration is required to attend and FSLG is represented in a remote technology via live video feed, webinar streaming, etc., created with available interactive technology.

    3. AC 123 – EXHIBITING - Customers reached through exhibiting at booths at conferences or workshops.

    4. AC 124 – WEBSITES

    5. AC 125 – NEWSLETTERS

    6. AC 126 - FORMS/PUBLICATIONS

    7. AC 127 – CUSTOMER PARTNERSHIPS – NCSSSA events, etc.…

22.40.1.6.2  (04-21-2014)
Recording the Number of Outreaches

  1. There should be one RCCMS Taxpayer Education Activity created per outreach event, regardless of the number of FSLG participants. If multiple Specialists participate in an outreach event, the lead employee for the event should create one RCCMS Taxpayer Education Activity for the event. For example, three Specialists and a management assistant operate a booth at a four-day event. One event took place, so one Taxpayer Education Activity entry is required in RCCMS by the lead employee designated by management.

  2. If a Specialist provides a seminar on FSLG tax issues and also operates a booth at a four-day event, separate Taxpayer Education Activities are required in RCCMS for the seminar and the booth activity.

22.40.1.6.3  (04-21-2014)
Determining the Number of Customers Reached

  1. Customers Reached is defined as the total number of non-IRS external customers involved in each customer educational event. The number is based on the best available information (overall registration or actual head count).

  2. Customer reached includes attendees at all face-to-face and exhibiting events, as well as attendees at events delivered through the use of remote technology including webinars and phone forums. It also includes indirect users of FSLG communications products.

    1. FACE-TO-FACE EVENTS: Count the actual number of customers for all face-to-face presentations where the FSLG speaker is physically in front of the live audience.
      • EXAMPLE: FSLG sends two presenters to conduct two separate presentations (or one presenter to conduct two separate sessions) at the same conference, the Specialist will count this as two separate speaking presentations and the actual number of attendees at each as "customers reached.”
      • EXAMPLE: FSLG accepts an invitation to provide an IRS representative to serve as part of a larger panel. Count that as one unique speaking event and the actual attendees as “customers reached”.

    2. OTHER OUTREACH EVENTS:
      PHONE FORUMS: Customers counted through phone forums include those attending the live phone forums or telephone conferences hosted by FSLG as well as those planned and organized by external groups requesting an FSLG speaker. EXAMPLE: FSLG plans a phone forum and 1000 individuals register for the event, but 880 actually attend for the duration of the phone forum. The number of Customers Reached would be 880.
      OTHER REMOTE OUTREACH: Count the actual number of customers for live sessions facilitated with other remote technology. Those attending live scheduled presentations (participant registration required to attend) created with available interactive technology (i.e. – Capture with live Q&A, live or streaming webinars, etc.). • EXAMPLE: FSLG delivers an archived webinar session in response to a request for a speaker—and an FSLG employee is available for a live Q&A to follow the pre-recorded webinar session.
      • EXAMPLE: FSLG does not have a speaker available for an outreach request, but provides the organization with a pre-recorded webinar and follows up to confirm its use and records the number of individuals that viewed it, as reported by the host organization.

    3. EXHIBITING: Customers counted through exhibiting at booths at conferences or workshops will be based on the actual overall registration of the event, but not to exceed an "overall maximum number"
      • EXAMPLE: An organization sponsors an event where FSLG is invited to exhibit and they report overall registration as 1,500. The activity is three days of exhibiting. The number of Customers Reached reflected would be 1,500.

22.40.1.7  (04-21-2014)
Outreach Objectives

  1. Objectives #1 OUTREACH PREPARATION Purpose: This objective measures whether the Specialist prepared adequately to deliver an effective presentation. Information coordination among our external and internal partners will ensure the most meaningful presentations. The Specialist will consider the audience level of tax knowledge during this preparation phase.

      Key Element Definition
    A. Initiates contact with customer to establish the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience. Recommendation: Make the initial contact within five business days of the customer's request. Establishes the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience: Information to be obtained will include the agenda of topics, tax expertise level of the audience, number of persons to be present, facility layout, equipment availability, etc. The pre-seminar questionnaire provides the written documentation of this information.
    Initiates contact with customer: Information is solicited in advance of the speaking engagement from the point of contact by means of a standard pre-seminar letter and questionnaire. Telephone calls or emails may facilitate the gathering of essential information as well.
    B. Coordinates with internal as well as "external" professional partners to participate and/or cosponsor events when appropriate. Recommendation: Within five business days, contact any internal or external resource persons you are inviting to the outreach effort (based on customer consent). Coordinates with internal professional partners: When appropriate, solicits participation from our internal partners (Small Business/Self-Employed, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, Employee Plans, Exempt Organizations, etc.) when their expertise is needed. Coordinates with external professional partners: Extends invitations to the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA), Parallel Social Security Officer (PSSO), SSA Employer Service Liaison Officer (ESLO), and (in some regions), the SSA Wage Reporting Specialist. These SSA officials can address Form W-2 paper, electronic, magnetic media and Internet filing and reporting. SSA also offers other employer services such as SSN verification. When time constraints permit and the customer is agreeable to it, participation from our internal and external cadre of partners may add considerable value to the total program package offered to our customers.
    C. Creates Taxpayer Education Activity in RCCMS following managerial approval Creates Taxpayer Education Activity in RCCMS following managerial approval: Includes all required information including event location, date and time, audience count, staff hours required for the event, costs, etc.
    Submits RCCMS activity for managerial approval when all required information has been included.
    D. Assembles all necessary materials to deliver an effective presentation. Assembles all necessary materials: Adequate numbers of relevant documents are ordered to clarify or support technical/procedural topics presented. The Resource Research materials lists are used.
    Makes effective presentation; materials, PowerPoint, etc., are reviewed for current relevant content before presentations. Corrections or changes to materials are documented.

  2. Objective #2 PRESENTATION SKILLS Purpose: This objective measures the effectiveness of the presentation. The Specialist must provide an organized and knowledgeable presentation that addresses the concerns of the customer, allow time for questions, and provide a means for customer follow-up after the presentation is over. The Specialist creates a proper environment through professional appearance, demeanor, and attitude.

      Key Element Definition
    A. Addresses the needs of the customer. The Specialist delivers a presentation that includes issues requested by the customer during the initial contact. These issues are discussed, explained, and clarified. If issues are raised that were not a part of the scheduled agenda, the Specialist addresses these to the extent possible. If further research or referral to another division is required, the Specialist makes contact with the customer within ten calendar days following the presentation.
    B. Creates the proper environment by maintaining and conveying a professional attitude. Creates the proper environment: The proper environment is created by a combination of appropriate dress, demeanor, and attitude on the part of the Specialist. The environment is one where good service to the customer is the goal.
    Maintains and conveys a professional attitude: A professional and neutral tone is established throughout the presentation. When challenged the Specialist is not defensive, threatening or intimidating. The forum remains an open environment for questions, suggestions, comments, etc. from the audience.
    C. Delivers an understandable and relevant presentation that is technically accurate and procedurally correct. The seminar/speech should be "user- friendly", using plain language and concrete examples to explain abstract theory as much as possible. When available, uses examples, rulings, and guidance that specifically apply to governmental employers.
    The Specialist is knowledgeable in the topics covered so that an understanding of our technical and procedural requirements may be imparted to the customer.
    D. Ensures that customers are aware of Customer Assistance. Makes the customer aware of available Customer Assistance during the event by giving a short overview of the process and it’s purpose.
    E. Provides audience with the Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Government Entities (GE) Activity Event Feedback Survey form at the presentation. Forwards completed forms to CPM. The objective evaluation form, the Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Government Entities (GE) Activity/Event Feedback Survey, is available from the FSLG electronic repository and should be distributed to the audience at the beginning of the presentation. Customers may rate, and comment on, the overall effectiveness of the presentation as it takes place. The Specialists should send completed forms promptly to CPM.

  3. Objective #3 FOLLOW-UP PROCEDURES

      Key Element Definition
    A. Updates figures in RCCMS Taxpayer Education Activity as soon as possible following the event and closes the Activity to the group manager. Updates figures in Taxpayer Education Activity in RCCMS as soon as possible following the event and closes the Activity to the manager: Information required in RCCMS includes event location, date and time, audience count, staff hours required for the event, costs, etc.
    B. Follows through with telephone contact and correspondence to the customer, as appropriate. Follow-up is essential in building lasting relationships with our customers. In a follow-up telephone conversation (or email), the Specialist checks to see whether the point of contact has any further concerns that were not addressed in the presentation or concerns for which we can offer future assistance.
    A closing letter of thanks should be sent to the point of contact. The letter asks the customer to make referrals of other governmental entities that may want an IRS presentation.


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