1.7.1 Servicewide Research for Tax Administration

Manual Transmittal

February 21, 2018

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 1.7.1, Research and Analysis for Tax Administration, Servicewide Research for Tax Administration.

Material Changes

(1) This transmits a complete revision of IRM 1.7.1 to consolidate and update the program information under one IRM section. As part of this consolidation the following changes were made:

  1. IRM 1.7.1 was retitled Servicewide Research for Tax Administration, and will house pertinent information from IRM 1.7.2, IRM 1.7.3 and IRM 1.7.4.

  2. IRM 1.7.2, IRM 1.7.3 and IRM 1.7.4 will be obsoleted and the pertinent content was merged into IRM 1.7.1.

(2) The guidance merged into this revision of IRM 1.7.1 includes:

  1. IRM 1.7.1.1, Program Scope and Objectives - Added internal controls on the program ownership related to the IRS Research program including background, authority, roles and responsibilities, measures, acronyms and related resources.

  2. IRM 1.7.1.1.1, Background - Moved content from IRM 1.7.4, Role of Research in IRS, relating to roles and responsibilities and evolution of research.

  3. IRM 1.7.1.2, IRS Research Program Management - Updated content formerly addressed in IRM 1.7.1 and added new content about the research governing boards, Research Policy and Planning Committee and Research Directors Coordinating Council which replaced the Servicewide Research Council.

  4. IRM 1.7.1.3, Research Data Standards and Scope and IRM 1.7.1.3.1, Research Data Standards - Moved content from IRM 1.7.2, Servicewide Research Data Standards.

  5. IRM 1.7.1.4, Retention of Research Studies - Added a reference to records retention requirements for research studies.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 1.7.1, Servicewide Research Council, dated 08/15/2004 is superseded.
IRM 1.7.2, Servicewide Research Data Standards (08/152004), IRM 1.7.3, Servicewide Research Library (08/15/2004) and IRM 1.7.4, Role of Research in IRS (11/01/2007) will be made obsolete.

Audience

Employees from all IRS organizations who conduct research.

Effective Date

(02-21-2018)

Benjamin D. Herndon
Chief Research and Analytics Officer

Purpose Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: This IRM provides information on research in the IRS, the research community, research standards and coordination and governance.

  2. Audience: All IRS employees involved in research and analysis of IRS data.

  3. Policy Owner: Research Applied Analytics and Statistics (RAAS).

  4. Program Owner: Chief Research and Analytics Officer, RAAS.

  5. Primary Stakeholders:

    • Research and analysis program offices and staff within RAAS

    • Large Business and International (LB&I)

    • Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE)

    • Tax Exempt & Government Entities (TE/GE)

    • Wage & Investment (W&I)

    • Criminal Investigation (CI)

    • Human Capital Office (HCO)

    • Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate (TAS)

    • Office of Online Services (OLS)

Background

  1. Until the 1990s, research in IRS consisted of a headquarters Research Division and several smaller research offices serving functional Assistant Commissioners. The functional research units supported the field operations of those functions, and the Research Division focused on Servicewide issues, emerging technologies, and supporting the functional research units. An Analysis and Studies Division, operating under the Chief of Management and Administration, focused on human resources studies.

  2. By the mid-1990s, all research units merged with the Research Division to become Compliance Research. District Offices of Research and Analysis (DORAs) were created to facilitate research of local compliance issues. Headquarters Compliance Research was split; part became the National Office Research and Analysis (NORA) Branch (which guided and coordinated the DORAs), another part became the Applied Research Branch, and the remainder became a Planning and Budget Branch. Although the DORAs reported to the District Directors, they received much direction from NORA.

  3. When IRS was reorganized in 2000 into four major operating divisions and other additional functions, the DORAs were assigned to the various operating divisions, and NORA reverted to the NHQ Office of Research. After the reorganization, NHQ Research, the Office of Program Evaluation and Risk Analysis, the Statistics of Income Division, the National Research Program, and Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Research were grouped together in the new Research, Analysis, and Statistics (RAS) organization.

  4. In 2001, the Director of Research, Analysis, and Statistics (RAS) created the Servicewide Research Council (SRC). The SRC served as a forum for sharing information, coordinating crosscutting actions and resolving procedural issues that affect the execution of research and analysis across operating divisions. Additionally, the SRC served as a vehicle to reach mutual agreement on the use of common assets/projects intended to serve the entire research community, and also as the forum for resolving other issues related to research and analysis affecting high impact cross-divisional projects and initiatives. The SRC remained in effect until 2012.

  5. In 2015, the Acting Director of RAS created a new Research & Analytics Planning and Coordination governance structure to replace the Servicewide Research Council. The mission of this new coordinating governance structure was similar to the SRC, however, the new governance structure enhanced the SRC by developing two new Councils of executives, namely the Research Directors Coordinating Council (RDCC) and the Research Policy and Planning (RP&P) Committee. Further, unlike the previous SRC, the new Research and Analytics Planning and Coordination governance structure also included a crowd-sourcing component, since the IRS Commissioner felt that one critical piece to the success of this new coordination model was to ensure that employees’ opinions related to better coordination, communication, and planning were included in the model.

  6. In 2015, the commissioner recognized a need to bring together the Research, Analysis and Statistics Organization and the Office of Compliance Analytics to foster better collaboration of research efforts across the service. In November 2016, Research, Applied Analytics, and Statistics (RAAS) officially stood up as an organization.

Authority

  1. Policy Statement 1-3 governs IRS research activities. The guidance in this IRM section conforms with Policy Statement 1-3 establishing the foundation for research in the IRS; the collection and analysis of data related to Service operations and strategic goals is essential in sound planning, management and evaluation of Service programs and activities. Studies, tests and research activities are conducted within the headquarter research function, RAAS, and within the operating divisions. See IRM 1.2.10.4.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. RAAS has general program oversight of research activities in IRS.

  2. Chief, Research and Analytics officer in RAAS is responsible for coordination of research within the IRS and research conducted within the RAAS organization.

  3. Senior executives in each organization are responsible for conducting and managing research within their organizations.

  4. Research Policy and Planning Committee (RP&P) is responsible for setting IRS research priorities and research standards. See IRM 1.7.1.2.1 for additional information on the structure of RP&P committee and responsibilities.

  5. Research Directors Coordinating Council (RDCC) is responsible for identifying and managing cross organizational research projects and developing annual IRS research plan to align with identified research priorities. See IRM 1.7.1.2.2 for additional information on the structure of RDCC and their responsibilities.

  6. RAAS, Project Management Office (PMO) is responsible for managing the Research and Analysis (R&A) project repository, which is an online inventory system of all IRS research projects.

  7. IRS Research Community - Employees who work in the research community throughout the IRS are responsible for following the data standards described in IRM 1.7.1.3.1, Data Standards.

Program Measures and Controls

  1. IRS Research and Analytics (R&A) repository is used to catalog IRS research project inventory.

  2. IRS research data standards in IRM 1.7.1.3.1 are used to ensure consistent data research within the IRS. Research staff within the IRS and contractors must use tested, validated and documented data to ensure analysis is proper, reliable and accomplished in accordance with stakeholder and customer expectations. Research staff must also ensure that standards are in place and followed that limit and control access to taxpayer data and protect taxpayer privacy. IRS research staff are to follow data standards in IRM 1.7.1.3.1.

Terms/Definitions/Acronyms

  1. The following are common terms used in this IRM section:

    Acronym Term
    CoP Community of Practice
    PMO Project Management Office
    R&A Research and Analytics
    RAS Research, Analysis, and Statistics
    RAAS Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics
    RDCC Research Directors Coordinating Council
    RP&P Research Policy and Planning Committee
    SRC Servicewide Research Council
    SOI Statistics of Income

Related Resources

  1. The following are related resources:

    • Research and Analytics (R&A) Project Repository - https://organization.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/ras/raaspmo/SitePages/RAPCHome.aspx

    • RAAS Business Unit webpage - http://ras.web.irs.gov/

IRS Research Program Management, Oversight and Coordination

  1. Research and analysis of tax administration data is essential to planning, management and evaluation of IRS programs and activities. Research projects, studies, and tests support effective and efficient decision making in the IRS and assist in improving performance and in meeting strategic goals.

  2. The research community is composed of the RAAS organization and research and analysis offices contained in each of the four operating divisions (LB&I, SB/SE, TE/GE, W&I), as well as research functions embedded in CI and TAS.

  3. The RAAS organization oversees, coordinates Servicewide and operating divisions research studies projects and tests. RAAS typically focuses on data and research across the IRS operating divisions and functions and on taxpayer segments covering two or more of the operating divisions, longer timeframes, and/or support initiatives having a Servicewide impact. See IRM 1.1.18 for more information about the Office of RAAS.

  4. Research offices within the operating divisions and functions generally focus on issues relevant to their respective customer bases and taxpayer segments.

  5. All IRS research projects are listed on the Research and Analytics (R&A) Project Repository at https://organization.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/ras/raaspmo/SitePages/RAPCHome.aspx. The repository houses an inventory of all active research projects and studies and prior studies since 2016. It is accessible to all research personnel in the IRS and, therefore, provides a communication vehicle for sharing types of projects and programs that the research community is conducting in support of the IRS mission. See IRM 1.7.1.2.3 on the R&A Project Repository.

  6. Projects, studies, and tests are encouraged throughout the research community to support data-driven decisions. There are several commonalities among the research methodologies and tools used within the community and are represented in the list below. These include, but are not limited to:

    1. The use of surveys and focus groups

    2. Analyses of taxpayer characteristics

    3. Forecasting of data to identify emerging trends and issues

    4. Behavioral research

    5. The creation of models using internal and external data

    6. The development of workload selection models

  7. The Research Policy and Planning Committee (RP&P) establishes annual Research and Analytics (R&A) priorities for the Service. See IRM 1.7.1.2.1, Research Policy and Planning Committee (RP&P).

  8. The Research Directors Coordinating Council (RDCC) coordinates research throughout the IRS. It provides a forum for best practices. See IRM 1.7.1.2.2, Research Directors Coordinating Council (RDCC).

Research Policy and Planning Committee (RP&P) Purpose and Scope

  1. Because the research community consists of a complex set of networks, the Research Policy and Planning (RP&P) committee was created as a forum to share information, coordinate cross-functional actions, establish IRS research and analytic (R&A) priorities, and resolve issues that affect research across the IRS.

  2. The RP&P is comprised of Senior Executives within the IRS. The committee sets overall research priorities for the IRS and serves as a steward of the research and analytic staff throughout the IRS. The RP&P is responsible for the following:

    1. Sets 5-6 annual R&A priorities, aligned with IRS strategy

    2. Approves priority research projects and identifies organizational and function sponsors for each priority

    3. Provides overall IRS research leadership and support to direct resource allocation, as needed

    4. Periodically reviews research data standards for the R&A community

    5. Recommends crowd-sourcing topics

RP&P Membership
  1. The RP&P committee consists of a chair, vice-chair, standing members, rotating members and adjunct members:

    1. Committee Chair: Chief Research and Analytics Officer, RAAS

    2. Vice-Chair: Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement and Deputy Commissioner, Operations Support

    3. Standing Members: Commissioners from W&I, LB&I, SB/SE, and TE/GE, the CI Chief, and the National Taxpayer Advocate

    4. Rotating Members: A research director within RAAS and a research director from an organization or function who serves a 12 month period

    5. Adjunct (non-voting) Members: Chief Risk Officer and Chief, PMO in RAAS

RP&P Logistics
  1. The RP&P committee meets quarterly.

  2. The PMO office in RAAS coordinates RP&P meetings and maintains meeting minutes.

  3. Decisions of the committee are decided by a simple majority of the members.

  4. A quorum of three fourths of the RP&P voting members is required to be present for any voting decisions.

Research Directors Coordinating Council (RDCC) Purpose and Scope

  1. The RDCC is comprised of directors and executives from each of the operating and division research program offices.

  2. The primary focus of the Council is to provide coordination of research activities throughout the IRS and to drive R&A community improvements. The Council identifies and monitors new projects to improve the infrastructure of the research community. The RDCC council will:

    1. Facilitate servicewide research collaboration

    2. Improve research methodologies for data driven research

    3. Develop an annual R&A plan for the IRS, aligned to IRS research priorities

    4. Support priority projects (i.e., allocate resources)

    5. Identify and drive infrastructure projects in the R&A Community

    6. Foster research communities of practice to encourage employee development

RDCC Membership
  1. RDCC consists of research directors in the operating division and functions:

    1. Chief Research and Analytics Officer

    2. Research Director, Criminal Investigation

    3. Research Director, Large and International Business

    4. Research Director, Small Business/Self Employed

    5. Research Director, Tax Exempt and Government Entities

    6. Research Director, Wage and Investment

    7. Research Director, Human Capital Office

    8. Executive Officer, Office of On-Line Services

    9. Senior Research Advisor to the National Taxpayer Advocate

    10. Director, RAAS, Statistics of Income Division

    11. Director, RAAS, Data Management Division

    12. Director, RAAS, Data Exploration and Testing Division

    13. Director, RAAS, Strategy and Business Solutions Division

    14. Director, RAAS, Knowledge Development and Application Division

RDCC Logistics
  1. The RDCC meets monthly to coordinate ongoing and new research activity in the IRS.

  2. The PMO office in RAAS coordinates the RDCC meetings, agenda, and maintains meeting minutes.

Research and Analytics Project Repository

  1. The Research and Analytics project repository is a centralized database that is to contain all active and completed research projects and programs since 2016. The repository was created in support of the Research & Analytics Planning & Coordination model which was established and approved in 2015 to drive greater collaboration with and better service for the research community.

  2. The project repository is accessible to all research personnel in the IRS and, therefore, provides a communication vehicle for sharing types of projects and programs that the research community is conducting in support of the IRS mission.

  3. The Project Management Office manages access to the R&A project repository. Requests to access the repository should be submitted directly to the RAAS PMO Office.

Research and Analytics Community of Practice (CoP)

  1. In 2015, the IRS Research and Analytics (R&A) community established a Research & Analytics Planning & Coordination model to drive greater collaboration with and better service for customers. A key area that emerged as essential in establishing a successful Planning & Coordination model was continued improvement of R&A community capabilities. The R&A Communities of Practice were established to support this goal.

  2. The CoP have three core tenets:

    1. Leverage the existing body of knowledge into an appropriate CoP

    2. Build relationships and strengthen ties between CoP members

    3. Organize and execute specific projects that will produce tools and lessons learned within the broader IRS R&A community

  3. The PMO coordinates R&A CoPs. Requests for further information should be submitted directly to the RAAS PMO office.

Research and Analytics Crowdsourcing

  1. The IRS R&A Community uses a Research & Analytics Planning & Coordination model to drive greater collaboration with and better service for customers. A key area that emerged as essential in establishing a successful Planning & Coordination model was a voice for employees. The R&A crowdsourcing program was established to support this goal.

  2. Crowdsourcing is defined as the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting feedback and/or contributions from a large group of people, especially in an on-line setting. The IRS uses a number of crowdsourcing events with R&A executives, managers and employees across the IRS research organizations.

  3. The PMO coordinates R&A crowdsourcing. Requests for further information should be submitted directly to the RAAS PMO office.

Research Data Standards and Scope

  1. It is important for the research community to conduct research in a manner consistent with IRS policy and best practices. Using tested, validated and documented data is a critical step in ensuring that research is proper, reliable, and accomplished in accordance with stakeholder and customer expectations. Research staff must also ensure that safeguards are in place and followed that limit and control access to taxpayer data and protect taxpayer privacy.

  2. Data standards cover all data from internal or external sources used in any research activity.

  3. Foundational research data systems such as the Compliance Research Information System (CRIS), the Compliance Data Warehouse (CDW) and the Enforcement Revenue Information System (ERIS) should be certified on a regular basis and at a minimum annually.

  4. Data standards were developed by the prior Servicewide Research Council with representatives form the operating divisions and Criminal Investigation and in consultations with data management, privacy, and security experts. In 2017, RP&P committee concurred with the data standards in IRM 1.7.1.3.1 dated 8-15-2004. The RP&P committee will periodically review the data standards for compliance with IRS procedures and best practices and share the standards with the RDCC.

  5. Research managers are responsible for ensuring compliance with the research data standards contained in IRM 1.7.1.3.1, Data Standards.

Data Standards

  1. The following standards are required to be followed for all IRS research projects and data:

    1. The use of taxpayer data is restricted to authorized personnel for approved research projects

    2. Taxpayer privacy must be safeguarded

    3. The data used in a research project must be validated

    4. Any known or potential limitations in the data used in a research project must be properly disclosed

    5. Any data used in a research project must be obtained, utilized, stored, disseminated and transported in accordance with the Internal Revenue Manual

    6. Related documentation (data dictionary, record layout, sampling plan, data validation documentation, syntax and other computer code) must be made available to any research site requesting data

    7. All data used in a research project and under the control of research, whether stored on computer or archived on magnetic media, must be destroyed in a timely manner in accordance with Document 12990, Records Control Schedule (item 27) (formerly IRM 1.15.27, Records Control Schedule for Compliance Research).

Retention of Research Studies

  1. All completed and final research studies are to be retained in accordance with the retention policy of each Research function.

  2. Each Research program office is required to review the research document or documents including text, spreadsheets, charts, presentations, databases, tables or other documentation for official use only (OUO) and personally identifiable information (PII) and designate the document accordingly.

  3. Follow Document 12990, Records Control Schedule Item 25 for SOI and Item 27 for Research.