INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY/New system enhances taxpayer services
When Pittsburgh’s Department of Finance and School District saw a need to improve its customer service, it also saw the need to update its 16-year-old computer network. Information for 5,000 business accounts and 115,000 individual accounts was stored on separate systems, making it difficult for the department to find a taxpayer’s entire history and respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
The department needed an integrated computer system that would provide fast return processing and taxpayer data analysis. “Our short-term objective was to be ready for the year 2000,” says Trudy Williams, assistant director of finance for Pittsburgh. “Long term, we needed a system that would allow us to generate savings, reduce costs and continue to provide a high level of customer service.”
The Integrated Self-Assessed Tax Administration System (ISAT), from Blue Bell, Pa.-based Unisys, combines the department’s administration, processing, collection and case management functions for all city and school district taxes, including earned income, occupational, business privilege, parking and mercantile taxes. The system also replaces some of the smaller applications that are used for special levies such as amusement taxes. When the project is finished later this year, city staff will have immediate access to every taxpayer’s complete record.
The department is replacing the current mainframe and PC-based system with a Microsoft Windows NT client/server environment that offers flexible architecture for future enhancements. Telefiling and Internet filing capabilities also will be added to the system for improved processing of returns.
In addition to helping employees be more responsive to customers, the new system will improve productivity and internal collections, reduce storage facilities and allow staff to quickly identify new revenue opportunities. “We must have access to a wealth of information to resolve taxpayers’ questions,” Williams says. “Information must be accurate, up-to-date and readily available for our customers to be satisfied.”