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  • Integrity – maintaining our standards

    As the principal revenue collection agency, the ATO understands that integrity is fundamental to maintaining community trust and confidence in the tax and superannuation systems. This includes perceptions of fairness in our administration of these systems.

    Our employees (including contractors to the extent that it is legally and practically enforceable) must act ethically and with integrity in accordance with the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Code of Conduct.

    We also have legislative obligations, including the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), to ensure the efficient, effective, economical and ethical use of public resources.

    Our business relationships with the private sector are guided by our Ethical business relationships statement, which details codes of conduct and mutual responsibilities.

    As a key objective of our governance framework, integrity is central to how we deliver on our commitments. To reinforce this, the Second Commissioner, Law Design and Practice is the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, which oversees integrity standards in the ATO.

    To ensure we remain an integrity-based organisation, we seek integrity advice from external leading contemporary experts from across a range of disciplines to guide our decision making.

    Integrity is a key consideration throughout all levels of the ATO, including:

    • for the organisation    
      • in its capacity as an employer
      • in its capacity as a purchaser or consumer of goods and services
      • when interacting with taxpayers, the community and their representatives
      • when interacting with key stakeholders (for example, government)
      • in fulfilling legal obligations imposed on the Commissioner of Taxation or the ATO.
    • for employees  
      • when interacting with taxpayers, the community and their representatives
      • when interacting with each other
      • in any of their own dealings which may impact on us or our reputation.

    We have a wide range of corporate governance and assurance mechanisms that help us monitor and ensure our integrity, including:

    • Audit and Risk Committee
    • corporate governance framework
    • APS Values and Code of Conduct
    • ATO Fraud and Corruption Control Plan
    • Internal Audit and assurance
    • financial management and assurance
    • information management and security
    • performance measurements of integrity including integrity indicators.

    We have in place a range of external scrutineers, including:

    • Parliamentary Committees
    • Australian National Audit Office
    • Australian Information Commissioner
    • Commonwealth Ombudsman
    • Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman.

    Responsibilities and roles

    Everyone in the ATO plays an important role in maintaining our integrity. We are expected to:

    • perform our duties with professionalism and integrity
    • be fair and equitable in official dealings with the public and fellow employees
    • act in accordance with the law and the APS Code of Conduct
    • avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest.

    These standards of conduct are characterised not only by compliance with laws and regulations, but also basic values and attributes, such as:

    • ethics and integrity
    • respect
    • accountability
    • courtesy
    • honesty
    • commitment to service and professionalism
    • fairness.

    Employees are personally accountable for applying these values and standards in their day-to-day work and in other situations where their behaviour could affect our reputation as an integrity-based organisation.

    Sanctions may apply where an employee fails to meet these responsibilities.

    See also:

    Last modified: 07 Sep 2020QC 33544