Some IRS employees have been provided with BlackBerrys and laptop computer aircards without a proven job need for them and some of that technology is underused or not used at all, an audit has found.
A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released Tuesday said that nearly $6 million could be saved over five years by tightening the policies.
It said that in 2011 the IRS spent about $8.5 million on 35,000 aircards, which provide mobile Internet access to laptops, paying maintenance fees that range up to $30 a month per aircard even if they are not used. In addition, the IRS spent $2.9 million on 4,400 BlackBerrys that incur automatic monthly access fees of up to $63.
The devices generally are provided based on the employee’s job category rather than on a proven need to have them, the report said. About $1.1 million was spent on aircards and BlackBerrys that were not used for at least three months, and 45 of the former and 68 of the latter were not used at all during the year, it said.
In addition, nearly 2,600 employees “may have been assigned an aircard or BlackBerry without required management approval,” the report said. “These devices cost the IRS more than $950,000 in Fiscal Year 2011, or about $4.8 million over five years.”
In response to an earlier draft of the report, the IRS agreed to periodically review the occupations to which it provides the technology, and to better monitor BlackBerrys with no usage. Management also agreed to examine sharing of aircards.