IRS News Release  
December 01, 1992

IRS & NTEU Set Total
Quality Organization Goal

The Internal Revenue Service and the National Treasury Employees Union have agreed to move to a higher level of employee involvement and more sophisticated labor-management relationship by working jointly to make the IRS a Total Quality Organization.

The partnership announced today during the IRS-NTEU Quality Conference is the first of its sort in the federal government. It calls for more upfront involvement by employees, managers and the employee union in a variety of efforts to improve IRs operations and performance.

IRS Commissioner Shirley D. Peterson called the accord a "break-through". "We face challenges in the 1990s that require not only continuous improvement efforts", she said, "but also dramatic advances in quality and customer satisfaction."

NTEU President Bob Tobias concurred. "This partnership opens the door for transforming the IRS bureaucracy into an organization which effectively meets taxpayer needs and duly respects and values its workers."

Since October 1987, the IRS and NTEU have engaged in the Joint Quality Improvement Process, which involves councils of management and labor employees overseeing efforts to identify problem areas and make improvements. TQO, however, goes beyond problem solving in a sequential manner.

Under this new type of partnership:

  • The NTEU National President will join the top IRS executives in discussions about efforts to achieve TQO and NTEU will participate in various other management decision-making groups, such as the Human Resources and Compliance 2000 Policy Boards. Any regional offices which have similar groups also will have NTEU participation.
  • Top IRS Regional executives and regional NTEU representatives will meet at least quarterly to discuss quality efforts throughout the region. Any regional quality improvement efforts will involve NTEU representation.
  • Local IRS offices will move from the present more structured quality improvement process to the TQO environment in an incremental fashion based on guidelines to be determined in upcoming discussions. However, among the features of TQO at the local and national levels will be:
  • annual self assessments against the Baldridge Quality Award criteria;
  • employee involvement in deciding how work processes will be measured and in designing new work systems; and,
  • recognition that time spent on TQO efforts is essential work and thus is to be considered official IRS business.

More details about the way the partnership agreement will operate are to be decided in upcoming months through further discussions by IRS management and NTEU leaders.

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