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  • Ethical business relationship statement

    The Ethical business relationship (EBR) statement details codes of conduct and mutual responsibilities in business dealings between the ATO and its suppliers.

    These include:

    Our commitment and values

    Our commitment

    The EBR statement is built on personal and professional values, and public and private sector objectives and standards.

    We are committed to working with businesses in an efficient, effective, economical and ethical manner to achieve better outcomes for all parties that provide us with goods and services.

    We expect suppliers who work with us to act in an ethical manner and support our values so we can achieve mutual trust in our relationships and ensure our business dealings withstand public scrutiny.

    Businesses and government agencies working with an ethical business relationships statement consistently achieve better results and reduce their costs. We can realise these benefits through improved business relationships, reduced disagreements, quicker and easier problem resolution, support for ways of considering innovations from business, and businesses being assisted to advance their organisational objectives in a fair and ethical manner.

    Our values

    We value being fair and professional, applying the rule of law, and being responsive to challenges and opportunities apply equally to us when conducting business with suppliers.

    We are committed to the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct and APS Values set out in the Public Service Act 1999. They identify government and community expectations about the professionalism and integrity of the APS, and the important values and principles that guide public administration.

    We are committed to:

    • achieving results and managing performance
    • performing our functions in an impartial and professional manner
    • having the highest ethical standards
    • behaving honestly and with integrity and upholding the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS
    • maintaining public trust in the APS.

    EBR expectations

    You can expect us to:

    • operate within the law
    • comply with our legal obligation to maintain the secrecy of information we have as a tax administrator about a supplier's taxation affairs and not access or use that information for our business dealings with that supplier
    • manage activities with integrity, professionalism, honesty and fairness
    • disclose and take reasonable steps to avoid any conflict of interest (real or apparent)
    • ensure that any outside employment our staff are permitted to undertake will not compromise their ATO duties and responsibilities
    • have open and accountable procurement processes
    • treat all potential suppliers and contractors equitably
    • control access to information held on contractors and in particular information that meets confidentiality requirements
    • resolve problems through timely, effective and equitable mechanisms and processes
    • apply probity and conflict of interest requirements proportionate to the risks
    • not use our duties, status, power and authority in order to seek or gain a benefit or advantage for ourselves and any other person
    • not seek to benefit from supplier practices that may be dishonest, unethical or unsafe
    • ensure that any purchases identified through market research, unsolicited proposals or innovations follow Commonwealth procurement policies
    • purchase from the ATO's panel arrangements whenever possible and comply with the mandatory provisions in Whole-of-Government and Coordinated Procurement Contracting
    • meet our individual and collective responsibilities
    • provide a clear channel of communication to report unethical practices in our business relationships
    • base our administration and management of contracts on the contract terms and conditions.

    We expect you to:

    • comply with your obligations under Australian tax laws and meet any relevant international taxation arrangements
    • comply with the law and tell your contract manager as soon as you are aware of anything about your business and tax activities that may impact on the reputation of the ATO or delivery of services to the ATO
    • provide accurate, reliable and timely advice and information
    • advise of actual and apparent conflicts of interest as soon as you become aware of them
    • act ethically, fairly and honestly in all dealings with us
    • work with us according to Commonwealth procurement policies
    • deliver services in an environmentally sustainable manner
    • comply with the ATO security and privacy requirements when dealing with sensitive information and material to protect its confidentiality and security
    • refrain from offering gifts or inducements to ATO employees
    • refrain from discussing ATO business and information in the media
    • assist us to prevent unethical practices in our business relationships
    • have as part of your business practices a way of receiving and resolving problems
    • be responsible for your personnel and sub-contractors and ensure they are aware of this statement and act in an ethical manner to achieve the standards and behaviour we expect of businesses we deal with.

    We may also ask you to:

    • agree to relationship principles that set out how you will work with the ATO and its other contractors on significant contracts
    • follow our procedures to inform us of innovative ideas and products.

    EBR guidelines

    Gifts, benefits and hospitality

    ATO employees must not accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits offered by virtue of their employment with the ATO or the APS. They must also discourage offers of gifts, hospitality or other benefits.

    Legislative and policy framework

    There are a number of legislative, policy and related documents that form the Commonwealth framework within which we conduct procurement and business activities. Some of the most important are:

    • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and Commonwealth Procurement Rules
    • Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 – contractors must meet these obligations when working with personal information
    • Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework
    • Public Service Code of Conduct - we have a strong enforcement regime for the legal and administrative sanctions available under the Public Service Act and Crimes Acts.


    All parties will recognise the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of each other's commercially sensitive and proprietary information.

    The confidentiality and treatment of taxpayer-related and personal information is also subject to strict legislative, management and system controls that apply equally to the ATO and contractors.

    Use of ATO equipment, resources and information

    Our staff and contractors must only use ATO equipment, resources and information for its official purpose.

    Intellectual property rights

    All parties will respect the intellectual property (IP) rights of others.

    All parties recognise the necessity of having the appropriate IP rights to enable the work to be delivered and for the ATO to fulfil its role. The parties will be proactive and alert each other where necessary IP rights have not been covered in tenders and contracts and then negotiate and formalise any access, licence and use of intellectual property.

    See also:

    Last modified: 21 May 2015QC 33499