• Managing our information technology

    We have one of the largest information technology operations in the Australian Public Service, with a workforce of 2,100 and an annual information technology operating budget of approximately $633.3 million. We partner with external service providers to deliver and support over 750 systems, most of which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across 61 sites nationally.

    Highlights

    • Implementing Tax Time 2010 with our new systems
    • Finalising new contracts for our outsourced technology arrangements
    • Finalising a major transformation of our network and contact centre technology
    • Successfully relocated our data centre from Canberra to Sydney

    Our administration of the taxation and superannuation systems is fundamentally dependent on technology, with rapidly increasing volumes of our work done electronically. Our systems also underpin our people, financial and workflow management.

    Realising the benefits from our change program

    We finalised our change program on 30 June 2010. The change program provides us with a modern, robust and flexible integrated processing and accounting system. It also provides the foundation for further improvement as we leverage the capabilities of our new systems and re-engineer our processes. Other change program deliverables enabled us to provide better services to the community, for example:

    • tax practitioners and businesses now have better online access with more integrated and personalised information
    • individuals can notify us about changes to their personal details once, for all their tax and superannuation affairs
    • people contacting us can be confident we will quickly understand their overall position and provide a more tailored service to meet their needs because staff have a single view of taxpayer information.

    Integrated registration, accounting and business systems together with new business processes allow staff to work electronically rather than relying on paper trails. By electronically allocating work across the organisation to areas of relevant skills and capacity we can more effectively manage our workloads and provide better service. Our employees' familiarity with common systems allows them to transport these skills across the organisation.

    Importantly, it is now easier to make system changes, to implement policy and legislative changes, provided these changes are 'in pattern' with our system design.

    The change program has also delivered a significantly enhanced analytics capability, enabling improved efforts to differentiate our engagement with taxpayers, and in the identification of cases requiring further attention. Additionally, the change program provided new reporting tools, enabling better monitoring and support for decision making and the management of our work.

    Enhancing our information technology and communication capabilities

    In 2010-11, we finalised our major procurement program to replace existing information technology contracts. Our strategy has been to differentiate the services we required and to select providers with the best offering in relation to each of the three bundles of services:

    • managed network services
    • centralised computing
    • end-user computing.

    Our arrangements with our external service providers - Optus Networks Pty Limited, HP Enterprise Services Australia Pty Ltd and Lockheed Martin Australia Pty Ltd - will deliver major change to our information technology infrastructure over the next five years and significant benefits in the future.

    In 2010-11 we focused on enhancing our information technology and communication capabilities through our new contracts, particularly in relation to our phone technology, service delivery and core infrastructure.

    Our new managed network services contract with Optus Networks Pty Limited includes next generation phone and network technology delivered via a converged internet-protocol platform.

    This will deliver significant business benefits, including:

    • meeting increases in call volumes quickly and with little extra cost
    • delivering phone calls from people to the right area of expertise faster
    • expanding our use of network technology, such as video conferencing.

    We now have a single virtual contact centre, replacing our 15 separate contact centres. We now manage call volumes nationally and allocate calls to the next available officer, no matter where they are located, helping us to manage peaks and troughs and improve our telephone services to the community. We can now more quickly increase our call centre capability. This allowed us to support the government's community assistance during the natural disasters in early 2011.

    This year we implemented the first phase of our enterprise service management centre as part of our contract with Lockheed Martin Australia Pty Ltd. This replaced multiple information technology help desks with a single point of contact for our information technology faults, requests and incidents.

    The enterprise service management centre brings together all our information technology supplier partners ensuring consistent processes, reporting and performance management.

    We will also be able to identify issues earlier and be supported by a robust and simplified incident management process that will restore service quickly and minimise the impact on the community and us.

    In 2010-11, in partnership with HP Enterprises Australia Pty Ltd, we moved one of our data centres from Canberra to Sydney. This involved the successful migration of 3,400 services, 300 applications and hundreds of thousands of gigabytes of data. This high-risk undertaking involved nearly three years of planning, preparation and delivery. We executed the project successfully and with a minimum of disruption to the community.

    From next year our centralised computing contract will deliver a more reliable infrastructure platform, allowing increasing automation of some of our work, such as incident recovery and provisioning, saving time and money.

    Planning for the future

    In 2010-11 our focus moved from the change program to developing and implementing a plan for information technology investments for the future. Our ATO Online 2015 (IT forward plan) will ensure that information technology investments align with our strategic statement and corporate plan.

    Some of our key focus areas for the year ahead include:

    • completing the integration of pay as you go and fringe benefits tax instalments into integrated core processing in 2012
    • designing and building systems for Tax Time 2012 and meeting government commitments from the Cooper and Henry reviews, as well as federal budget and other policy or legislative measures
    • commencing the transition to a 'one client' register to support new online services such as display of superannuation memberships and change-of-contact details
    • improving the experience in the tax agent and business portals identified as areas for improvement in surveys and in feedback we have received.
      Last modified: 31 Oct 2011QC 28036