1.18.5 National Distribution Center

Manual Transmittal

January 29, 2018


(1) This transmits revised IRM 1.18.5, Distribution, National Distribution Center.

Material Changes

(1) IRM, Changed title from Mission of the National Distribution Center (NDC) to Program, Scope and Objectives and renumbered subsections and sections accordingly

(2) IRM, added Related Resources subsection

(3) IRM, added Acronyms subsection

(4) IRM, added Background subsection; NDC Software Systems information was moved to Background

(5) IRM, Title changed from NDC Software System to Order Entry and renumbered subsections accordingly; updated website address for internal and external orders.

(6) IRM , updated role of Processing Clerk; Processing Clerks no longer answer telephone calls

(7) IRM, Title changed from Order Entry Paper Orders to Order Entry; removed NDC receives paper copies of order blanks,

(8) IRM, revised order fulfillment activities

(9) IRM, updated internal order fullfillment process for NDC clerks

(10) IRM, removed NDC effective management practices and updated logistic responsibilities

(11) IRM, updated cycle counting process

(12) IRM, added TPDS to exception and added monthly update to avoid stock outages

(13) IRM, Changed The Distribution Center ships to NDC and updated contractors role.

(14) IRM, added the following: including New Hire Hits to Package Assembly Program; QuickReact Letters and Supply Items

(15) IRM, added this program also includes New Hire Kits for IRS employees

(16) IRM, added QuickReact Letters subsection

(17) IRM, added Supply Items subsection

(18) Editorial changes were made throughout the IRM

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 1.18.5 dated July 16, 2014 is superseded.


IRS Employees

Effective Date


LuCinda Comegys
Director, Distribution
Wage and Investment

Program, Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: This manual describes the National Distribution Center (NDC) responsibilities in providing order fulfilment services and distribution of products to IRS customers.

  2. Audience: The manual is for all IRS employees especially those who make decisions in order fulfillment.

  3. Policy Owner: Administration of the National Distribution Center falls under the direction of the Commissioner, Wage and Investment (W&I).

  4. Program Owner: Media and Publication (M&P) is the program office responsible for overseeing and providing guidance for the NDC.

Related Resources

  1. The web sites used when placing internal and external orders are:

    • website for internal orders: http://caps-as.enterprise.irs.gov/osms/views/homePage.xhtml

    • website for external orders: http://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions


  1. The following acronyms are used throughout the IRM:

    Acronym Definition
    CAPS Computer Assisted Publishing System
    ESP Electronic Status Notice
    ELITE Enterprise Logistics Information Technology
    DMS Distribution Management System
    EWCS ELITE Warehouse Control System
    FMS Forecasting Management System
    IMDDS Internal Management Document Distribution System
    M&P Media and Publication
    NDC National Distribution Center
    OSMS Order Subscription Management Systems
    TAC Tax Assistance Center
    TFOP Tax Forms Outlet Program
    TPDS Training Publication Distribution System
    VITA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
    W&I Wage and Investment
    WMS Warehouse Management System
    OMS Order Management System
    COTS Commercial-off-the-shelf


  1. The NDC provides order fulfillment services and distribution of products to IRS internal and external customers. The distribution center uses two software systems for operations:

    • Enterprise Logistics Information Technology (ELITE)

    • Computer Assisted Publishing System (CAPS)

  2. ELITE maintains NDC inventory, controls orders, manages account information, and provides warehouse management tools. ELITE also generates picking tickets which are used to fill orders. ELITE is a commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) application. It is comprised of the following modules:

    • Order Management System (OMS)

    • Warehouse Management System (WMS)

    • Distribution Management System (DMS)

    • ELITE Reporting Facility

    • Forecasting Management System (FMS)

    • Resource Management System

    • ELITE Warehouse Control System (EWCS)

  3. CAPS maintains product specification information. Orders for several specialty programs are entered in CAPS and downloaded into ELITE. Order Subscription Management System (OSMS) is an online ordering system for internal orders that operates with the CAPS.

Order Entry

  1. The Processing Section at the NDC receives public and internal requests for IRS products. Customers may order by phone, mail and through the IRS intranet and internet websites.

    • Phone number for internal orders: 800-829-2765

    • Phone number for external orders: 800-829-3676

    • efax number for internal orders: 855-473-2007

    • Website for internal orders: http://caps-as.enterprise.irs.gov/osms/views/homePage.xhtml

    • Website for external orders: http://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions

Telephone Operations

  1. Processing clerks respond to telephone messages from internal customers who place orders or request information about the status of products and orders.

Customer Types

  1. Some products and quantities are restricted to particular customers or customer groups. ELITE flags orders that exceed the quantity limits and the system generates a daily report of such orders. Analysts review the report each day and decide whether to override the limitations or reject the order.

  2. The quantity limitations for tax products by customer are set in Electronic Status Notice (ESN) and can change:

    Order Type Description
    Taxpayer An individual ordering tax related materials.
    Employer A business ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.
    Post Office
    1. A post office acting as a third party distributor of tax materials, usually part of the Tax Forms Outlet Program (TFOP).

    2. A post office ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.

    Bank A financial institution ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.
    1. A public library acting as a third-party distributor of tax materials, usually part of TFOP.

    2. A library ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.

    Other Government Agencies
    1. A federal, state or local government or government-affiliated organization such as schools, universities and military installations, acting as third party distributor of tax materials to the public or their employees.

    2. A federal, state, or local government or government-affiliated organization such as schools, universities and military installations ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.

    Tax Professional
    1. A person or firm that prepares tax returns for compensation.

    2. A person or firm that prepares tax returns for compensation and is ordering products to meet its tax reporting requirements.

Mail Receipt

  1. NDC processing clerks open and sort incoming mail. The clerks forward misdirected mail and remittances to their correct destination.

Order Receipt

  1. NDC receives orders by:

    • Mail from IRS offices, taxpayers, employers, tax professionals and other public customers

    • efax

    • email

Forms 5753 – Action on Your Tax Form Order

  1. The NDC uses Forms 5753, Action on Your Tax Form Order, to notify customers about changes in their orders. This notification includes referrals to other agencies or offices, and product information.

Invalid Address

  1. All customer addresses must be compliant with the Postal System address requirements.

  2. ELITE verifies that addresses are valid postal addresses and generates a report of all orders with unacceptable addresses.

  3. NDC employees review the report and attempt to correct addresses by using reference materials and internet resources.

Order Fulfillment

  1. Processing and printing clerks are responsible for processing and sorting orders for shipment. Order fulfillment activities include:

    1. Fill orders containing one to hundreds of products

    2. Print low volume products on-demand

    3. Spray addresses on envelops for automated orders

    4. Use folder and inserter equipment to fill small envelope orders

    5. Sort orders for shipment by carrier

    6. Close orders in the ELITE system

    7. Generate mail and shipping manifests

Types of Orders

  1. The IRS has various methods of making tax forms and instructions available to the public. Processing clerks fill orders for the programs listed below.

  2. The terms order type and programs can be used interchangeably. An order type indicates who is placing the order.

    Programs Users
    International Program Supplies American embassies with tax forms to meet the needs of Americans overseas
    Internal Management Document Distribution System (IMDDS) Program Manages and distributes internal documents to IRS personnel
    Tax Forms Outlets (TFOP) Program Supplies post offices, libraries and other outlets with tax materials for distribution to the public
    Prior Year Program Supplies public and internal customers with tax products from previous years
    Internal Program Provides IRS employees with forms and publications
    Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Supplies Taxpayer Assistance Centers with products for distribution to the public
    Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program Supplies customers with tax forms, instructions and publications
    Employer Program Supplies businesses with employment tax products for employee and company use
    Small Business Program Supplies forms and publications for small business workshops and/or educate clients on federal tax obligations
    Package Assembly Program Supplies packages of tax products for conferences and trade shows administered by IRS employees

Public Order Fulfillment

  1. A public order is a request for IRS printed product(s) from an individual taxpayer, employer, tax professional or other requestor.

Receiving Public Orders
  1. The NDC receives initial orders by:

    • Order form

    • Correspondence

    • Internet

Picking Tickets
  1. A picking ticket lists the products to fill an order. It includes:

    1. Name and address

    2. Shipping container for the order

    3. Products and ordered quantity

    4. Product fulfillment line location

    5. Transportation for shipping the order

    6. Messages telling the customer some items may be back ordered or shipped separately.

  2. ELITE generates picking tickets. Processing clerks fill orders from the picking tickets. ELITE may generate more than one picking ticket for an order on product availability, quantity or fulfillment line location. Each picking ticket and its associated products are shipped separately.

Forms Clerk Fulfillment Responsibilities
  1. The clerk must check the work station and verify that it is stocked with the correct products and product revisions before filling orders.

  2. The clerk must pull from the products stocked on the workstation.

  3. To complete an order, the clerk must check to verify that all products are included in the correct container, that quantity included is accurate, that the stock is in good condition, and that the customer's address is visible on the container.

  4. When an order is completed, the clerk places the container on the appropriate conveyor for transportation to the verification scales.

Special Notices
  1. Sometimes the IRS includes items not requested by a customer in an order. For example, information about products in a shipment such as errata notices and Form 5753, Action On Your Tax Forms Order.

  2. IRS issues errata notices when printed products contain errors or late legislation minimally changes the content of material. The organization reprints products that contain critical errors.

  3. Form 5753 informs the customer about changes in the order.

Internal Order Fulfillment

  1. An internal order is a request for IRS products from an IRS employee.

  2. NDC clerks fill orders for most internal use products from a stock carousel. The carousel is a storage and retrieval device consisting of a series of linked bins mounted on an oval track. When the carousel is activated, the bins rotate to bring the required items to the operator. The operator places the product into a tub. When the order is completed, the operator pushes the tub onto a conveyor which takes it to a packing station.

Stocking Order Fulfillment

  1. ELITE replenishes fulfillment stock using demand and minimum level parameters.

  2. Line resupply impacts productivity, quality, turnaround times, and safety.

NDC Transportation Operations

  1. NDC Transportation Staff:

    1. Provides information for shipping orders at the Distribution Center, updates ELITE transportation tables and maintains a system of accountability for outgoing shipments

    2. Provides guidance to NDC employees for determining and obtaining mail and transportation services so that materials arrive at destination timely and efficiently using the most cost effective method

    3. Works with M&P/Distribution, Distribution Requirements, and Postal and Transport Policy Section to ensure that policies, standards, techniques, and procedures are followed when shipping printed materials

    4. Acts as the contracting officer's representative (COR) for the NDC mail pre-sort contracts


  1. Logistics personnel responsibilities are:

    1. Follow inventory management practices

    2. Maintain inventory accuracy and reorder points

    3. Receive inbound product shipments and inspecting them for damage

    4. Transport stock from the receiving dock to warehousing locations

    5. Pull stock from warehouse locations for Order Processing use

    6. Replenish stock

    7. Fill bulk orders

    8. Load outbound trucks

Product Maintenance

  1. The NDC stores and distributes appropriate revisions of printed products. Designated M&P analysts identify current, prior year, and obsolete revisions and product disposition.


  1. Throughout the year, NDC employees must dispose of obsolete, revised, damaged, or unusable products. NDC employees identify and dispose of products as directed by designated M&P analysts.

Inventory Accuracy (Cycle Counting)

  1. The NDC maintains accurate inventory records to meet customer needs. The Distribution Center uses cycle counting to ensure their inventory records accurately reflect what is stored in the warehouse and order fulfillment areas. Cycle counting is the process of verifying inventory accuracy by manually counting products in specific locations, comparing it to ELITE and reconciling differences.

Reorder Points

  1. ELITE reorder points alert NDC and other Distribution employees that product inventory has fallen below specific quantity. A reorder point consists of a date range and quantity.

  2. NDC Logistics Inventory Management Specialists establish a reorder point for all center products (with the exception of On Demand and TPDS), update them on a monthly or annual basis to avoid stock outages and back orders, increased transportation costs, and potential work stoppages.

Planned Shipments

  1. Specialty program customers place annual orders for products they will need during the filing season. The NDC ships groups of products to these customers as these orders and products are received. These shipments are called planned shipments.

  2. Contractors ship some of these orders directly to the customer. These shipments are called contractor planned shipments.

Bulk Order Fulfillment

  1. The NDC fills public and internal orders for full cartons of published products directly from the warehouse. Full carton orders are also called bulk orders.

Specialty Programs

  1. Specialty Programs are Distribution programs and products distributed to a specific audience with special requirements. These programs include:

    • International Program

    • Tax Forms Outlets Program

    • Training Publication Distribution System

    • Internal Management Document Distribution System

    • Security Products

    • Prior Year Tax Products

    • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

    • Small Business Program

    • Package Assembly Program; including New Hire Kits

    • QuickReact Letters

    • Supply items

The International Program

  1. The International program supplies the American embassies, consulates, and various military legal assistance offices worldwide with sufficient tax products to meet the needs of Americans overseas. Each summer, these customers receive a survey listing the items and quantities they used in the prior year from program analysts through electronic mail. The customers place orders for the subsequent year and return them to a designated electronic form mailbox.

Tax Form Outlets Program (TFOP)

  1. The IRS distributes tax materials to outlets that are readily accessible to the public. The NDC distributes some of the tax materials while contractors deliver the bulk of the orders. Most program participants are libraries or post offices, however, selected other organizations also distribute forms through the program.

Training Publication Distribution System (TPDS)

  1. Training Publication Distribution System (TPDS) provides training materials to IRS operating divisions worldwide. Training instructors use over 3000 TPDS products in over 500 courses. End users may be at IRS offices or off-site locations. Orders for training materials originate in the field offices.

  2. IRS employees order training material by OSMS from the NDC.

Internal Management Document Distribution System (IMDDS)

  1. The IMDDS Program maintains IRS office mailing addresses and distributes various published products to IRS audience. The author(s) of the products and the IMDDS coordinator identify the targeted audience, and establish automatic distribution quantities for each location.

Security Products

  1. Some IRS published products contain protected information (or are serially numbered). These security products require specific measures for receiving, storage, shipping, and disposal. Management authorizes and designates employees within certain order points to order security products. Management identifies and authorizes which products a designated employee may order.

Prior Year

  1. The NDC will enter and fill orders for current forms and publications and five prior year forms and instructions only. The NDC may elect to use on-demand printing to fill prior year orders.

  2. NDC fills orders for prior year items for only five years after current revision.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

  1. The VITA program ordering process is electronically based. The order information is electronically sent to CAPS for Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communications (SPEC) review and approval. Once the orders are approved, they are downloaded into ELITE for fulfillment.

Small Business Program

  1. The Small Business program is an established partnership with stakeholder organizations to conduct Small Business Tax Workshops (SBTWs) on behalf of the IRS to provide resource materials for the organizations' clients and members.

Package Assembly Program

  1. The NDC assembles packages of printed products as a service to IRS employees only.

  2. Package Assembly Program requests include a list of cataloged products that will be used in workshops, conferences, trade shows, or one-time events. This program also includes New Hire Kits for IRS employees.

QuickReact Letters

  1. The NDC receives data files and correspondence files from IRS organizations to create personalized letters for taxpayers and /or IRS employees. The correspondence is printed, folded, and shipped by the NDC.

Supply Items

  1. The NDC receives and fills IRS internal customer orders for supply items such as bubble mailers, boxes, and secure shipping supplies which are ordered by IRS offices through OMS.