Monday, November 25, 2002

Booz Allen's Sweet Spot

Visited the Internal Revenue Service's Web site lately? If not, you're in for a surprise. The site is clean, well organized--even a tad humorous. We liked enough to put it on Forbes' Best of The Web list.

The site reflects the work of Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean, Va.-based consulting firm. Booz Allen was chosen in 1998 to help the IRS modernize and also shed its dismal customer-service reputation. The firm was a logical choice, as 8,000 of its 11,000 employees work in its government and technology practice. This group handles projects ranging from conducting studies for governments on how to offer services via the Web to helping agencies and departments revamp or outsource their information technology.

Edwin Booz, the enterprising economics and psychology graduate who founded the firm in 1914, pioneered the notion that an outsider could analyze a business and devise ways for it to improve profitability or crack new markets. In its history, Booz has had engagements as varied as helping organize the National Football League in the 1960s, advising on the breakup of Ma Bell and, more recently, helping Nissan restructure to achieve its amazing turnaround.

Booz's team on the IRS project, 250 strong, figured out a method for the IRS to reshuffle its 100,000 employees into units focused on particular taxpayer categories: individuals, charities, businesses and so on. "We made some very dramatic changes in the way the IRS is organized," says Booz Chief Executive Ralph Shrader, an electrical engineering Ph.D. and 28-year company veteran.

Result: The IRS' public confidence numbers are up 20% since 1998, no small feat for an agency so widely reviled, and the stage has been set for the massive task of modernizing the agency's computer systems.

Full story at