As part of the Government’s regulatory reform agenda, the government released its Regulator Performance Framework (RPF) under the 2014 Spring Repeal Day. The framework is an important element of the government’s commitment to reduce the cost of unnecessary or inefficient regulation imposed on individuals, business and community. As a regulator, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is required to self-assess its performance against the RPF.
The RPF comprises six outcomes-based key performance indicators (KPIs) and associated measures. The KPIs articulate the government’s overarching expectations of regulator performance, namely that:
KPI 1: Regulators do not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of regulated entities
KPI 2: Communication with regulated entities is clear, targeted and effective
KPI 3: Actions undertaken by regulators are proportionate to the risk being managed
KPI 4: Compliance and monitoring approaches are streamlined and coordinated
KPI 5: Regulators are open and transparent in their dealings with regulated entities
KPI 6: Regulators actively contribute to the continuous improvement of regulatory frameworks.
The Commissioner of Taxation is responsible for administering Australia’s tax system and significant aspects of Australia’s superannuation system. He is also the Registrar of the Australian Business Register (ABR) and the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS).
The ATO is the Australian Government’s principal revenue collection agency, administering the legislation governing tax, and supporting the delivery of government benefits to the community.
This report addresses the RPF’s ATO-specific metrics and reporting requirements agreed with the Board of Taxation (established in 2015 and updated in 2018). It is an assessment of our performance as a regulator for 2020–21.
The 2019–20 ATO Regulator Performance Framework self-assessment report noted two areas requiring further investment and continued focus in 2020–21, both of which are aligned with our intent and focus for the next few years to 2024, specifically to:
- build trust and confidence in the tax and superannuation systems
- be an integrated, streamlined and data driven organisation.
Progress in 2020–21 regarding these areas for improvement is outlined on page 3.
Rating methodology and definitions
The following table shows the rating methodology and definitions we use to assess our performance.
Met all expectations with no further improvements required.
Made significant improvements, with programs of work almost complete. Significantly exceeded service commitments.
Improvements consistent with expectations, with some further work required, as reflected in feedback. Exceeded service commitments.
Met base expectations as expected and all service commitments achieved.
Did not meet base expectations or service commitments.
We use a suite of 34 metrics to assess our performance, the results of which are included in the Appendix. One metric was removed following consultation with Board of Tax working group members in 2020 (Communication of our decision to consult on matters submitted within 20 days).
The suite comprises a mix of metrics, including:
- 14 outcome-based metrics: These are our most powerful measures of performance. For each of these metrics we incorporate brief analysis of the result.
- 9 survey-based metrics: The analysis for these metrics is focused on systemic trends across the suite of survey questions.
- 11 activity-based metrics: These metrics provide important operational context to inform our performance assessment, however in isolation they cannot tell us how effective we have been. Our focus is on the effectiveness of activities via improvement in outcomes, rather than measuring the volume of activities undertaken.
Of these metrics, a significant proportion are also reported in the Commissioner of Taxation annual report 2020–21, with ten of these (focused on key survey and outcome-based metrics) included in the annual performance statement. The annual performance statement reports on our performance under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 in achieving our purpose. A further two metrics are ongoing ATO service commitments.
Our purpose is to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Australians by fostering willing participation in the tax and superannuation systems. We achieve this by:
- making it easier for people to participate
- delivering contemporary and tailored services
- ensuring purposeful and respectful relationships
- operating as a professional and productive organisation.
In assessing the quality of our performance against each metric, we have regard to:
- Results compared to our performance targets for mature and well-established metrics, such as those included in our annual performance statement and some service commitments.
- We assess our performance targets annually to determine where existing results are expected to be maintained and where future performance is expected to be stronger.
- Trend improvement for metrics which are still relatively new, such as our survey-based metrics.
- As these metrics mature, we will establish appropriate performance targets.
- Activity-based or volume-based metrics having a less direct relationship to the quality of our performance.
- For these metrics, an increase in the volume of activity does not automatically mean an improvement, or a decline, in our performance.
Our service commitments have been designed to assure the ATO and the community that the services we provide are of a consistent and high standard and therefore form an important component of assessing regulation imposed on individuals, businesses and the community. Many of our commitments have targets that are meaningful to our clients and challenge us to deliver quality services that meet their needs and expectations.
We regularly report on our ongoing service commitments on our website at ato.gov.au/servicecommitments.
Results for our survey-based metrics are based on a representative sample of the overall population, to ensure their statistical validity. We measure the perceptions of those who have recently interacted with us to understand and improve the client experience, as well as to understand their views of the overall tax system and sentiment regarding the ATO. Where surveys require direct interaction with the community – for example, via a phone or online survey – the interaction is undertaken by an external provider, to ensure the independence and integrity of results.
We will continue to monitor and assess performance as we build on the outcomes we have achieved to date.
For more information about the performance of the ATO, refer to:
- Commissioner of Taxation annual report 2020–21.