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Wrong & illogical

Dimitri Vassilaros was way off the mark (“See who’s behind the mask of merger,” Sept. 21).

Your columnist is, of course, perfectly entitled to disagree with any and all proposals to consolidate Pittsburgh and Allegheny County government — even though virtually all of our elected officials see the logic of combining many of their services.

But Vassilaros’ attempt to somehow link these proposals to past “consolidation” of Internal Revenue Service processing centers is both factually wrong and illogical.

The fact is that the IRS added 10 privately run processing centers when it started outsourcing the processing of some tax returns in 1984; it did not consolidate or close any existing IRS centers, much less close one “in each state,” as your columnist asserts. So his basic premise is flawed.

And the attempt to somehow link this flawed premise to Mellon’s 2001 tax-processing incident, for which we’ve taken full responsibility for the unauthorized acts of a few former employees, is bewildering, if not malicious.

The IRS has successfully privatized the processing of returns that contain payments. This is done to speed the collection of tax payments. There is a higher level of automation in the private sector, which must invest heavily in technology because it also processes payments for many thousands of private-sector companies. These contracts are competitively bid to ensure the best possible pricing for the U.S. government.

Ken Herz
Squirrel Hill

The writer is director of corporate communications for Mellon Financial Corp.


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