Terms of reference
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recognises the important role that large funds, fund administrators, industry representatives and software developers play in the administration of the Australian superannuation (super) system. In recognition of this role, the ATO has established the Superannuation Funds Working Group (SFWG).
The forum provides an opportunity for a candid exchange of views and for all parties to gain an understanding of their respective situations. This understanding will provide a sound basis for the forum to identify, discuss and jointly resolve significant administration issues in relation to:
- the integrity of the super accounts and registers, including the administrative processes that lead to the population of accounts and registers for the various super products
- the authenticity of the ATO's interest calculation systems
- interactions between ATO accounts, including offsetting practices
- account statements and timing
- refund processing controls
- the change program.
Within its scope the SFWG will:
- focus on collaborative approaches to making it easier for fund administrators to comply, in the framework of mutual goals
- identify systemic issues in both ATO and fund administrative practices that need to be resolved, and assist in putting in place strategies to resolve them
- share information about the future design of the administration of the tax system, to maximise consultation and collaboration on the implementation of the design
- identify opportunities for co-design of the administration of the tax system and assist in enabling co-design
- communicate its work widely to super fund administrators, industry representatives and ATO staff to foster a shared understanding of purpose.
Members are able to raise issues and provide feedback on the matters that are within the ambit of the group. The ATO will consider the feedback for possible implementation, depending on the limitations for enhancements to ATO systems.
The SFWG is an administrative advisory group promoting an open and frank exchange of views between the ATO, fund administrators and super industry representatives. The SFWG reports to the Superannuation Consultative Committee (SCC).
Length of term
The SFWG is an ongoing administrative forum.
Robert Ravanello, Chief Operating Officer, is the approver of this working group.
The SFWG is a sub-committee of the SCC.
The SFWG was established to facilitate consultation, collaboration and co-design in the administration of super. The forum provides an opportunity for all parties to identify, discuss and jointly resolve significant issues in the administration of super.
The SFWG was established in September 2005 and held its first meeting on 4 October 2005. The forum meets four times a year and runs workshops on particular topics as the need arises.
Membership is made up of senior ATO staff, representatives of large super funds, fund administrators, software developers, and representatives of super associations.
Members must have a detailed understanding of the practical issues facing super fund administrators, and/or a detailed understanding of the ATO administrative arrangements impacting on super funds.
Membership will be subject to review, with consideration given to the capacity of members and prospective members to participate in meetings and ongoing consultations. The secretariat will monitor member participation and attendance patterns with the view to facilitating an amicable interchange of members as appropriate. It is anticipated that such reviews will occur once a year. Members are free to withdraw from the group at any time they wish.
All members should advise the secretariat if they are unable to attend a meeting.
Members may seek the agreement of the chair to nominate a replacement for a meeting, providing the replacement has a comparable level of expertise and understanding of super administration. If this is to occur, the member must advise the secretariat prior to the meeting.
SFWG members will respect all requirements for confidentiality of information provided to members of the SFWG.
The chair may choose to recognise guests who may attend meetings of the SFWG, for a term defined by the chair.
ATO stakeholders may be invited to participate in meetings to discuss specific issues.
Client Account Services will provide secretariat services to the SFWG.
The secretariat can be contacted as follows:
The chair's role and responsibilities are to ensure the SFWG operates effectively to meet its purpose, as defined in the forum's terms of reference.
Specifically, the chair is responsible for:
- setting the direction and focus for forum activities
- establishing and reviewing short-term and long-term forum goals
- directing deliberations of the forum, by framing the issues, setting the tone for the forum's discussions and actively engaging all members in discussion
- maintaining relationships with key stakeholders
- assessing and managing risk
- ensuring the forum operates in an accountable manner in adding value for super administration
- undertaking an annual review and measuring the effectiveness of the forum
- planning the forum's workload
- calling meetings and setting the agenda
- leading meetings, ensuring that minutes are kept and records maintained
- progressing action items assigned to the ATO.
Responsibilities of members include:
- respecting and abiding by the charter of the SFWG
- working with the chair to identify top priorities for the SFWG work program
- contributing to the effectiveness of the forum in meeting its purpose, as defined in the forum's terms of reference
- engaging in constructive, open and frank discussion in bringing a member's perspective to forum discussions
- fairly and responsibly representing the views of fund administrators or their membership in discussions with the ATO
- raising systemic issues in super administration, affecting a wider group of super administrators or their membership and/or their clients, rather than specific issues affecting a single individual
- acting with due diligence and good faith
- communicating the decisions and activities of the forum, as agreed with the chair
- acting in the best interests of the tax system as a whole
- declaring conflicts of interests, in accordance with the ATO's Corporate Management Practice Statement - Committee Management
- respecting all confidentiality requirements
- dealing with other members and other representatives associated with the forum ethically, and with courtesy and respect
- progressing any action items assigned to them.
Other attendees will:
- abide by the charter of the SFWG
- act with due diligence and good faith
- declare conflicts of interest, in accordance with the ATO's Corporate Management Practice Statement - Committee Management
- meet confidentiality requirements
- progress any action items assigned to them
- when replacing a permanent member for a meeting, communicate decisions and agreements to the member within a reasonable timeframe.
The secretariat is responsible for:
- preparing and distributing the agenda and papers to members prior to meetings
- organising all administrative requirements for each meeting
- taking minutes and maintaining records of the meetings
- publishing endorsed minutes on the ATO website
- obtaining responses to agenda items and action items and distributing them to members prior to each meeting
- recording the key achievements of the forum each financial year
- responding to queries raised by members, or escalating queries to relevant areas of the ATO
- communicating with members in a timely manner
- providing reports as required
- arranging and paying for catering costs and venue hire (where necessary)
- adhering to ATO requirements for forum secretaries
- acting in accordance with the Corporate Management Practice Statement - Committee Management
- providing effective coordination and support for the annual review of the SFWG
- maintaining a register of SFWG members and their details.
The ATO will provide appropriate resources to ensure the chair and secretariat are able to meet commitments made to the forum's operations, in line with agreed budgets.
SFWG meetings will be scheduled quarterly, with additional workshops or phone hook-ups as required.
In addition, members may be contacted by phone or email between meetings for feedback and suggestions on matters as they arise. Phone meetings will be limited, wherever possible, to one hour duration.
Members may contact the secretariat in writing between meetings to raise issues of a systemic administrative nature. These issues will be recorded as action items raised by members. A response will be provided to the member and the issue will be included in the agenda for the next meeting. The issue and response will be documented in the minutes of the meeting which are published on the ATO website once they have been endorsed.
The secretariat of the SFWG will advise members in advance of meeting dates, venues and times.
Consultation with members between meetings will be coordinated by the secretariat. The extent of additional consultations will be monitored by the chair and secretariat, in collaboration with SFWG members, to ensure that involvement of members is maintained at a mutually satisfactory level.
The secretariat will provide ongoing coordination and record keeping. Members will be given the opportunity to comment on the draft minutes of each meeting and to request changes. Final versions of the meeting minutes will be published on the ATO website.
The chair of the SFWG will identify risks and significant issues. The chair will ensure that:
- records associated with risks and issues are appropriately maintained, in accordance with ATO procedures
- corporate risks and systemic issues are communicated to relevant key stakeholders in the ATO
- risks are appropriately assessed and mitigation strategies implemented as deemed necessary
- issues are appropriately escalated, recorded and reported back to members on a regular basis.
The chair is responsible for communicating decisions to members and other key stakeholders such as ATO staff.
The chair will ensure that the SFWG provides reports to the SCC prior to each meeting of the SCC.
Liaison with the SFWG members and the SCC will be coordinated by the SFWG secretariat.
Members will ensure that the secretariat has current contact details and will advise the secretariat of any specific communication requirements.
To reflect the collaborative nature of the SFWG and the partnership between the ATO and the super industry, members will not be paid or reimbursed by the ATO for the cost of their time spent attending meetings or attending to SFWG issues.
SFWG members will not be paid consultancy or sitting fees by the ATO.
The ATO will arrange and cover the cost of reasonable catering and venue hire for each SFWG meeting. Morning tea and lunch will generally be provided on the day of a meeting.
Where the chair and the majority of SFWG members conclude that a matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the chair is responsible for escalating the issue to the parent forum and/or relevant approver. Particularly important intelligence or sensitive issues are also to be escalated.
Conflicts of interest and/or conflicts of roles are to be declared by all members as soon as they arise.
According to the ATO's Corporate Management Practice Statement - Committee Management, conflicts of interest arise when an individual's personal, financial or other interests compromise influence or affect their role as a member of the SFWG. A conflict of interest can be real or apparent. It can also be both financial and non-financial in nature.
Conflicts of roles arise when members represent two different roles, the performance of which may raise perceived or actual conflicts.
The chair is responsible for determining the appropriate course of action for dealing with specific conflicts of interest. Depending on the conflict involved, the chair may excuse the member from the meeting for the relevant agenda item, or may take other appropriate action.
The chair of the SFWG will review the forum's operations and membership annually, in conjunction with annual reporting and the identification of key achievements.
The chair will conduct reviews of the forum in consultation with members and key stakeholders, ensuring the effectiveness of the forum is measured and reported, in accordance with the Corporate Management Practice Statement - Committee Management.
The findings of the review will be reported to the SCC and to SFWG members.
Last Modified: Tuesday, 17 July 2012