4.7.1 Overview

Manual Transmittal

April 25, 2016


(1) This transmits a revision of IRM 4.7.1, Examination Returns Control System (ERCS), Overview.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 4.7.11, System Administrator and Database Administrator, was made obsolete. Part of the contents were incorporated into this IRM. The remaining contents were incorporated into IRM 4.7.2, Security.

(2) Minor editorial changes have been made throughout this IRM. Also, website addresses and IRM references were reviewed and updated, as necessary.

(3) Significant changes to this IRM are reflected in the table below:

Original Reference New Reference and Description
IRM (1) Included in IRM (1), (2), (3), and (4). Revised to include new users and ERCS functionality.
IRM (2) Moved to IRM, SETTS, and IRM, SSIVL. Both sections were revised.
IRM (3) Moved to IRM Some text cut from this IRM. Discoverer is discussed in IRM, Create, Maintain and Run Discoverer Reports.
IRM (4) Moved to IRM
IRM (5) Moved to IRM and revised.
IRM (6) Moved to IRM (5) and revised.
IRM (7) Moved to IRM and expanded. References to Online 5081 requirements for SSIVL, SETTS, and Discoverer were removed. Online 5081 requirements are covered in IRM 4.7.2, Security.
IRM Enhancements and Suggested Changes is a new section.
IRM This section on the ERCS implementation history was removed. It is not needed.
IRM AIMS is a new section.
IRM Hardware Technology was incorporated into IRM (3).
IRM Software Technology was revised and included in IRM
IRM ERCS Hotline was deleted. This service no longer exists. The parts that still apply were incorporated into IRM (2).
IRM (1) A list of all the ERCS IRMs was added.
IRM (1), (2) Moved to IRM (2) and revised.
IRM (3) Moved to IRM (3) and revised.
IRM (4) Moved to IRM (4) and revised.
IRM (5) Moved to IRM (2) and revised.
IRM (6) Deleted. It is obsolete. The Audit Trail Guide is no longer maintained.
IRM (7) Deleted. Replaced with links to the User Handbooks.
IRM Moved to IRM and revised.
IRM Moved to IRM (6).
IRM Moved to IRM (6).
IRM Deleted. Users cannot access this SharePoint.
IRM Moved to IRM (5).
IRM Moved to IRM (2).
IRM Moved to IRM and expanded.
IRM Moved to IRM and expanded.
IRM Removed from this IRM. Added a link to IRM, Permissions.
IRM Removed from this IRM. This is covered in IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff.
IRM Removed. Discoverer Permissions are included in IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff.
IRM Removed. SSIVL Permissions are included in IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff.
IRM Removed. HQ Permissions only impacts two users and does not need to be included in an IRM.
IRM Removed. This is included in IRM 4.7.2, Security.
IRM Removed. This is included in IRM, Managerial Approval.
IRM Removed. This is included in IRM, Managerial Approval.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 4.7.1, dated 1/26/2010 is superseded.


Small Business and Self Employed (SB/SE), Large Business and International (LB&I), and National Headquarters employees in Return Preparer Office (RPO), Whistleblower Office, and National Research Program (NRP) who use ERCS.

Effective Date


Diego Rubin de Celis
Supervisory Program Analyst, Operations Support, Technology Solutions
Small Business/Self Employed


  1. This IRM contains a basic overview of the Examination Returns Control System (ERCS) including its users, interfaces, and resources.

  2. ERCS is an inventory and time management system for returns under examination. The system is used by Small Business and Self Employed (SB/SE), Large Business and International (LB&I), and National Headquarters employees in Return Preparer Office (RPO), Whistleblower Office, and National Research Program (NRP). The ERCS database contains personally identifiable information (PII) in the form of names, social security numbers, addresses.

  3. ERCS provides programs and tools that aid users in performing their official duties and responsibilities. These duties include ensuring the correct type and amount of inventory is under examination and timely moving through the examination processes in order to meet the Examination Plan. All users have the responsibility to ensure statutes are controlled correctly, and data (employee, return, and time) is input correctly and timely in ERCS. Users are able to perform the following tasks on ERCS.

    • Add and update employee records and generate employee reports.

    • Add, assign, and update returns on ERCS.

    • Control inventory for returns not on the Audit Information Management System (AIMS) (i.e. penalty records).

    • Maintain statute control for returns, including generating Form 895, Notice of Statute Expiration.

    • Apply time for technical employees to returns and activities performed each day.

    • Generate various types of reports including inventory, monitoring, time analysis, statute, tax compliance officer, sample review, AIMS error reports, etc. See IRM 4.7.6, Reports, for more information.

    • Transfer or close inventory to another group, function, or area.

    • Generate and acknowledge Form 3210, Document Transmittal.

    • Approve changes to returns (managers only).

    • Research returns.

  4. There are special programs in ERCS available to the AIMS/ERCS staff to assist the users they support. Some of these programs give the AIMS/ERCS staff the ability to:

    • Upload ERCS requisitions and changes made by users to AIMS.

    • Generate error reports of returns with invalid or obsolete codes and discrepancies between AIMS and ERCS.

    • Update local files. (The contents of the local files are unique to each area. They are used to define local action, project, and freeze codes. Using local files, an area can restrict the use of statuses and disposal codes allowed for closing returns to match local procedures.)

    • Move inventory, employee records, and permission records from one employee to another, one group to another, or one area to another for a re-organization.

    • Add or update addresses used for Form 3210, Document Transmittal.

    • Add new employee group codes.

    • Add or update users permissions.

    • Research audit trails.


    ERCS creates audit trails for selected changes to returns, employee records, and permission records. A special audit trail is also created when users enter a taxpayer identification number (TIN) or a taxpayer name on ERCS. See IRM 4.7.2, Security, for more information. IRM, Audit Trails, has a list of the changes in ERCS that produce an audit trail.

  5. There are security checks within ERCS to ensure unauthorized users do not access programs and authorized users are kept within the boundaries of their permissions. These checks are performed automatically and silently each time a user attempts to access ERCS. The user has no ability to prevent the checks. For more information about permissions in ERCS, see IRM, Permissions.

ERCS Access and Setup

  1. Access to ERCS is granted through the Online 5081 system. Refer to IRM, ERCS Access, for information on the following topics:

    • Meeting the Prerequisites

    • Choosing the Online 5081

    • Completing the Online 5081

  2. Once the user’s Online 5081 has been processed and the user has a login and password to the ERCS system, the next step is to set up an ERCS icon. Refer to the Creating Shortcuts (icons on desktop) section in the ERCS Session File article for instructions. The article also has information about testing connectivity and changing the screen colors. For information about ERCS login names and passwords, see IRM, ERCS Login Names and Passwords. For information on what to do when an ERCS password is locked or how to set a strong ERCS password, see the Password Reference Guide for ERCS.

  3. Users having difficulties in the initial setup should contact the AIMS/ERCS staff. The AIMS/ERCS staff should either be able to resolve the issue or to determine the next steps which may include inputting an OS GetServices ticket. Refer to the AIMS/ERCS Staff web page for contact information.

Enhancements and Suggested Changes

  1. Users often have ideas for program changes that would prevent data input errors, clarify error messages, make input easier, or reports more helpful. Ideas for ERCS changes can be sent to the AIMS/ERCS staff or input though the Employee Suggestion Program. Employee suggestions are evaluated based on a number of things including the cost (programmer resources involved), the availability of programmer resources, and the benefit of the change to all ERCS users.

ERCS Interfaces

  1. ERCS data is in high demand because it contains trustworthy information for tax returns under examination as well as data that is not available on other systems such as penalty records, employee information, individual time charges to returns. ERCS exchanges information with the following systems.

    System Acronym Description
    Appeals Centralized Database System ACDS Appeals returns and related returns are extracted from ERCS six nights a week.
    Audit Information Management System AIMS AIMS sends data files containing return information to ERCS each week. See also IRM, AIMS.
    Corporate Authoritative Directory Service CADS The social security numbers and the standard employee identifiers (SEID)s for employees in operating divisions using ERCS are downloaded into ERCS five days a week. This information is used to validate an employee’s SEID when employees are added to ERCS.
    Discoverer N/A Discoverer is an ad-hoc report writer which allows Area and Headquarters (HQ) Analysts to create queries and reports from the ERCS data. For more information see IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff.
    Embedded Quality Review System EQRS ERCS sends return information for SB/SE and Specialty returns to EQRS each week.
    Enforcement Revenue Information System ERIS ERCS sends return and employee information to ERIS the first day of each month.
    Excise Files Information Retrieval System ExFIRS ERCS sends return information for Excise returns and returns worked in PBC 214 to ExFIRS monthly.
    Generalized IDRS (Integrated Data Retrieval System) Interface GII ERCS sends updates to AIMS daily via GII.
    Issue Management System IMS ERCS sends return information for returns worked in Specialty and LB&I along with returns worked in SB/SE with international features to IMS. The extraction also includes associated employee information for the returns. The program runs Sunday through Thursday.
    IMS sends time information for employees in Specialty and LB&I to ERCS every Thursday.
    National Quality Review System NQRS ERCS sends return information for cases selected for sample review to NQRS each week.
    Security Audit and Analysis System SAAS ERCS sends audit trails to SAAS daily.
    Summary Examination Time Transmission System SETTS ERCS sends employee information and summary time information to the SETTS server each reporting cycle. See also IRM, SETTS.
    Statistical Sampling Inventory Validation Listing SSIVL AIMS data, along with limited ERCS information, is transferred to SSIVL servers each week. See also IRM, SSIVL.
    Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration TIGTA ERCS sends return and employee information to TIGTA the first day of each month.
  2. Additional information for AIMS, SETTS, and SSIVL are included below.


  1. The Audit Information Management System (AIMS) provides inventory and activity controls for returns in SB/SE, LB&I, Tax Exempt/Government Entities (TE/GE), Wage & Investment (W&I), and Appeals under examination. AIMS is used to control returns, input assessments and adjustments to Master File and provide management reports. It uses linkage to IDRS to input status changes, adjustments, and case closing actions.

  2. AIMS data is sent to ERCS from each of the ten campuses each week. All ten files are used for SSIVL. The following five, containing SB/SE and LB&I returns, are used in AIMS to ERCS processing:

    • Brookhaven Campus

    • Cincinnati Campus

    • Memphis Campus

    • Ogden Campus

    • Philadelphia Campus

  3. During the weekly AIMS to ERCS processing, AIMS and ERCS records are compared. The differences are resolved either by updating AIMS or updating ERCS. Differences that cannot be resolved are reported in a collection of reports called the AIMS Error Reports. New AIMS records are added to ERCS during this processing. For more information about these reports, refer to IRM, AIMS Error Reports.

  4. Requisitions, updates, transfers, and non-examined closures made by ERCS users are extracted by the AIMS/ERCS staff and sent to AIMS via GII one or more times each day. This keeps the AIMS and ERCS systems in sync.


  1. The Summary Examination Time Transmission System (SETTS) is a subsystem of ERCS. ERCS users are responsible for maintaining employee information and inputting time to returns and activities performed by technical employees. Time charges are also added to ERCS through an interface with IMS. At the end of each reporting cycle (typically every four or five weeks), a member of the AIMS/ERCS staff in each area runs the SETTS programs to extract employee and time information from ERCS. The data is validated and then electronically transmitted to the Enterprise Computing Center at Martinsburg (ECC-MTB).

  2. At ECC-MTB the data is extracted for inclusion on Table 37, Examination Program Monitoring. The data is also sent to the AIMS Computer Information System (A-CIS). There the data is used in planning and creation of the Examination Plan and for monitoring each area/practice area to ensure the plan will be met. See IRM 4.9.1, Outline of the System, for more information.


  1. The Statistical Sampling Inventory Validation Listing (SSIVL) program extracts AIMS data from the ERCS server and sends the extracts to local servers every week. Specialized users in SB/SE, LB&I, TE/GE, and W&I access the data on the local servers and load the data into a Microsoft Access database for further analysis. This enables a field office or a campus operation to generate reports of potential errors and to generate Inventory Validation Listings (IVLs) of AIMS data.

  2. For more information refer to the SSIVL and SSIVL PC chapters of the ERCS Technical Reference Manual (TRM). SSIVL users should refer to the SSIVL website for instructions on installing the SSIVL Access database tables.

ERCS Users

  1. ERCS is an inventory control system for returns under examination in area offices. It is used to control and monitor returns from the time they are selected for examination until the examinations are closed. Users in different functions have varying responsibilities as returns move through the system. ERCS is designed to meet the needs of these users.

  2. Users see different ERCS menus based on their job requirements. They also may only have access to returns at certain stages of an examination. ERCS handles the division of duties by user types and permissions. For information about permissions, refer to IRM 4.7.2, Security.

  3. All users can research returns and run reports for returns in their group or function.

  4. The following user types are used to determine the menu options the user sees:

    User Type Description
    Admin AIMS/ERCS staff. See also IRM, AIMS/ERCS Staff.
    Area/Ind SB/SE Area Directors, LB&I Practice Area Directors, and administrative staff.
    CCP Centralized Case Processing managers, technical employees, and administrative staff. See also IRM 4.7.8, Centralized Case Processing.
    DFO Directors of Field Operations and administrative staff.
    Group SB/SE, LB&I, and RPO field group and tax compliance group managers, team managers, administrative staff, and support staff without inventory. See also IRM 4.7.5, Group and Territory.
    PSP Planning and Special Programs management (all levels), coordinators, and administrative staff. See also IRM 4.7.4, Planning and Special Programs.
    Review Technical Services - management (all levels), administrative staff, and support staff without inventory. See also IRM 4.7.7, Technical Services.
    Sample Review National Quality Review Staff (NQRS), Quality Measures and Analysis (QMA), LB&I Quality Measurement System (LQMS) managers (all levels), and administrative staff. See also IRM 4.7.5, Technical Services.
    Territory Territory managers and administrative staff. See also IRM 4.7.5, Group and Territory.

ERCS Support

  1. The success of ERCS depends on every user and the individuals who support the users, the hardware, and the software that make up the system.

Server Support

  1. The ERCS application runs on a Sun minicomputer located in the Enterprise Computing Center in Memphis, Tennessee (ECC-MEM). The application runs on a Solaris operating system with an Oracle database.

  2. ERCS is supported by system administrators (SA)s and database administrators (DBA)s. The SAs must have knowledge of Solaris and the UNIX operating system. The DBAs must have knowledge of Oracle databases. For ERCS responsibilities of the SAs and DBAs please see IRM, System and Database Administrator Responsibilities.

Software Support

  1. The ERCS programs are supported by the ERCS Developers who are under Information Technology. Changes to the programs require either an OS GetServices ticket for bug fixes or a Unified Work Request (UWR) for updates and enhancements to the program. The ERCS Developers are responsible for working the tickets and coordinating changes to the software. OS GetServices tickets for ERCS program problems reported by users are input by the AIMS/ERCS staff. See section IRM (3) for more information concerning OS GetServices tickets.

  2. The ERCS Developers also maintain the ERCS TRM and the six user handbooks, located on the AIMS/ERCS website. The ERCS TRM is used mainly by the AIMS/ERCS staff as a resource to explain how the programs work. The user handbooks explain how to run the ERCS programs, what features are available, and how the screens and reports look.


  1. Users should seek assistance from the AIMS/ERCS staff for ERCS issues such as initial ERCS setup problems, permission problems, correcting ERCS data, updating employee records and returns, reporting program issues, etc. IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff, contains responsibilities and instructions for the AIMS/ERCS staff.

  2. The AIMS/ERCS staff works with HQ ERCS Analysts and the ERCS Developers to resolve ERCS related issues. Refer to the AIMS/ERCS Staff web page for contact information.

Headquarters Analysts

  1. SB/SE Headquarters (HQ) is staffed with analysts assigned to the following program areas: AIMS, ERCS, SETTS, SSIVL, and Discoverer. Normally when a user experiences an AIMS or ERCS related issue, the first contact is the AIMS/ERCS staff. If assistance is needed to resolve an issue, the AIMS/ERCS staff may contact a HQ Analyst. The HQ ERCS Analysts serve as the subject matter experts for ERCS.

  2. SSIVL users should first seek assistance from other users in their work group or their counterparts in other areas. Issues with SSIVL that cannot be resolved may be reported to a HQ SSIVL Analyst.

  3. Discoverer users should first seek assistance from other users in their work group or their counterparts in other areas. Issues with Discoverer that cannot be resolved may be reported to a HQ Discoverer Analyst.

  4. For contact information for the HQ ERCS, HQ AIMS, HQ SSIVL, and HQ Discoverer Analysts, see AIMS, ERCS, SETTS, SSIVL, and Discoverer Personnel Listing for Headquarters.


  1. The ERCS IRMs provide information, instructions, and user responsibilities for ERCS users. There are nine ERCS IRMs, including this IRM.

    • IRM 4.7.1, Overview

    • IRM 4.7.2, Security

    • IRM 4.7.3, Statute of Limitations

    • IRM 4.7.4, Planning and Special Programs (PSP)

    • IRM 4.7.5, Group and Territory

    • IRM 4.7.6, Reports

    • IRM 4.7.7, Technical Services

    • IRM 4.7.8, Centralized Case Processing

    • IRM 4.7.10, AIMS/ERCS Staff


    The ERCS Territory Handbook contains information for Area, Practice Area, and DFO users.

  2. The ERCS Technical Reference Manual provides information for the ERCS support personnel. It explains how the end-user programs work and also contains information for features only available to the AIMS/ERCS staff. It is designed to aid the AIMS/ERCS staff in researching user questions and in resolving program and data issues.

  3. There are six ERCS user handbooks; one for each type of ERCS user. The ERCS Territory Handbook also includes information for the DFO, SB/SE Area and LB&I Practice Area users. Each of the user handbooks explain how to navigate between the ERCS menu options and screens that are available for the specific user type. See IRM, ERCS Users, for an explanation of ERCS user types.

  4. The ERCS user handbooks include:

    • ERCS Group Handbook

    • ERCS Territory Handbook

    • ERCS PSP Handbook

    • ERCS Review Handbook

    • ERCS Sample Review Handbook

    • ERCS CCP Handbook

  5. The AIMS/ERCS website is open to all IRS employees with Intranet capabilities. It contains a wealth of information such as contact lists, procedures, code lists, alerts and information for current issues.

  6. The AIMS IRM 4.4 , AIMS Procedures and Processing Instructions, and IRM 2.8 , Audit Information Management System (AIMS), should be used as a companion to the ERCS IRMs since many of the processes on AIMS and ERCS are interdependent.