IRS Turns to Their Own for Innovation

Earlier this month, more than 150 IT technologists on 25 teams competed in the agency’s first-ever “hackathon”, including NTEU chief steward Charles DeShay III at Chapter 72 (IRS Austin Campus). The goal of the event was to find solutions to digitalize and enhance the taxpayer experience.

“My overall experience participating in the first Hackathon was unbelievable. My team, Hack Pack, was comprised of eight IT specialists among several divisions. Within four days, not only did we collaborate and ultimately devise a winning concept, but also built an amazing rapport with one another,” DeShay expressed via email.
In 10-minute increments, each team demonstrated their unique ‘hacks’:

-reducing paper return volumes and digitizing hard copy returns
-converting legacy code
-enhancing existing services, like IRS2Go
Judges based their scores on the level of team innovation, impact, presentation, and path to production. Another hackathon goal was to increase collaboration across IT. Team names were inspired by different employees areas of focus, like the SOC Puppets, the Ctl-Alt Elites, the John Galt Team and the Machine Learners. 
Part of Hack Pack’s winning included presenting their solutions to IRS Commissioner Rettig. The team created a virtual assistant as an automated, conversational agent capable of communicating with a customer via voice or text to understand complex inquires and asking clarifying questions.
“Being part of a winning team gives me a sense of accomplishment and participating was a morale booster. Hack Pack has been tasked with exploring our proposed solution after meeting with IRS Commissioner Rettig and other executives. It is an exciting thought that I could have a small role in our agency’s evolution. I surely would participate again,” wrote DeShay.