The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. Treasury Department agency responsible for collecting taxes, as well as administering business and individual tax programs. The nearly 100,000 IRS employees include revenue agents, revenue officers, information technology specialists and human resources professionals. The IRS, like many organizations, has had to face a decrease in its travel budgets throughout recent years as the need to train employees has increased. The government agency increased its production of training videotapes that were delivered via mail, but that did not meet the agency's training needs. So the IRS has turned increasingly to live broadcasting via satellite to meets its various training objectives.
The IRS Corporate Television, located in Lanham, Md., dedicates about 65 percent of its broadcasting activity to corporate training, providing programs such as a course that helps revenue agents who are accountants obtain CPA credits in their respective states. All the IRS Corporate Television clients are internal, and the service is user-funded.
Dianne White, chief of corporate television for the IRS, shared with Satellite Business Solutions magazine Managing Editor Julie Samuel on how the agency benefits from its satellite broadcasting installation.
PROBLEM: Reaching All Employees While Keeping The Cost Down
The IRS's 100,000 employees are spread throughout the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico.
The IRS Corporate TV aims to provide service to all divisions and to reach virtually any employee, regardless of location. In addition, the broadcast solution must allow frequent rebroadcasts in order to reach employees in different time zones.
The broadcasting solution also must allow flexibility in the type of production, be it an elaborate interactive live panel broadcast, or a less costly presentation or rebroadcast.
A key is to be able to provide the service at a cost that allows a significant return on investment, which can also mean reaching a large number of employees at once. "If you were to add the cost of [a typical] classroom training plus the costs of travel, it is phenomenal," says White.
SOLUTION: Training Via Satellite
In September 1990, the IRS broadcast its first training program via satellite using a portable uplink truck to 13 downlink sites. With the success of this broadcast, the IRS added sites in several expansion phases and began using a permanent uplink, bringing the current number of downlinks to 151 in 49 states.
IRS corporate TV currently uses bandwidth on Intelsat Americas 6 and is able to reach about 20,000 users per broadcast due to size of its downlink space. Given that the IRS corporate TV studio contracts out all crew positions, the cost for each production varies depending on how elaborate the client wants the production to be, but the cost of satellite remains fairly stable. "We pay on the order of $340,000 a year for a 24/7 satellite coverage," says White.
"The return on investment is incredible, because our employees are spread out so far," White says. "For example, we did a program here for $10,000 that would have cost to train all the people in a classroom, with travel, about $130,000."
While the IRS has not completely replaced classroom training, the satellite broadcasting solution is in demand. "From fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2004, the number of broadcasts grew 56 percent," she says. "In the last fiscal, we did about 163 live broadcasts and more than 500 rebroadcasts."
Internal Revenue Service