Interconnection woes hamper BIR collection

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The systems helping the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) process tax data suffer from anomalies that hamper the revenue collection efforts of the agency as well as impair their productivity and the delivery of frontline services.

The Department of Finance, parent agency of the BIR, said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) tried to solve its network issues but has yet to fix the problem. The BIR asked the DICT to submit an update on measures taken to resolve the network connection problem as well as the long-term solution it is drafting to support the BIR’s complex requirements “on data center (DC) hosting and provisioning.”

“Said network connection only stabilized last 30 August 2018. However, note that its electronic tax information or eTIS file restoration has not been completed as of date,” BIR Deputy Commissioner Lanee Cui-David, who is in charge of the BIR’s Information Systems Group, said in her letter to Rio dated 20 September.

The tax bureau failed to meet its monthly and year-to-date collection targets in August even after netting P115.77 billion in September. The figure proved below the P121.40-billion collection for the month and 18.1 percent short from the same period last year. From January to September, the BIR collected P1.429 trillion or 10 percent higher year-on-year but still P1.473-trillion short of target for the period.

In her letter to DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., Cui-David said they experienced erratic network connection affecting all its systems and e-services last 10 August at the height of the DICT’s work on hardware provisioning, facility preparations and network reconfiguration to restore and back up the bureau’s system eTIS following a hardware meltdown last July.

The eTIS is a web-based internal BIR platform covering taxpayer registration systems; returns filing and processing; collection, remittance and reconciliation; audit; case management system; taxpayer accounts system; batch architecture module and system administration management.

Intermittent DICT network connectivity also severely delayed efforts to transfer the eTIS backup data and files from the Department’s DC in Quezon City to another one in Makati City last August, the BIR added.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was furnished a copy of the letter to Rio. The letter was also addressed to DICT Undersecretaries Denis Villorente, who is in charge of Development and Innovation; and Monchito Ibrahim, who handles Management and Operations and Jennifer Pacatang of the Department of Science and Technology.

“We have always been forthright that BIR needs an iGovPhil DC that is able to fully and adequately address all components of DC hosting and provisioning — infrastructure, services, applications, tools, not simply physical hosting or co-location (itals as shown on the letter),” said Cui-David.

She reminded Rio in her letter that “we have repeatedly communicated the urgency for DICT to speed up the process of strengthening and enhancing the iGovPhil DC’s, as envisioned under Executive Order 47,” which paved the way for the implementation of iGovPhil (Integrated Government Philippines Program).

“Therefore, may we be apprised on what DICT has undertaken so far to address recurring iGov DC co-location problems of BIR and in the long-term, how to fully and effectively support the complex BIR requirements on DC hosting and provisioning,” added Cui-David.

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