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ATO working to reduce system outages


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 12 July, 2017


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The ATO is moving to improve its IT design and governance practices in the wake of recent outages to its online systems, but has warned that the improvements could lead to further minimal disruptions in the future.

Following recent brief disruptions to its online services over the last couple of weeks, the agency has moved to reassure the public that it is doing everything it can to minimise further system outages.

A report into the ATO’s ICT systems, released in June as a follow-up to the review into last year’s more significant outages caused by a failure of the storage area network supplied by HPE, identified a number of key areas for improvement.

The recommendations cover IT design and government, response and remediation work, and the business impact of outages on stakeholders.

While these improvements are being implemented there could be further minimal disruptions to ATO services, the agency said.

“We acknowledge the more regular nature of these incidents recently continues to impact on those stakeholders — tax practitioners, the superannuation industry and digital service providers — who rely on the availability of our systems to run their business,” the ATO said in a statement.

“We are working to minimise any inconvenience of these issues and, importantly, provide certainty around the assistance and support available from the ATO should they be unable to meet their tax obligations through no fault of their own.”

To ensure tax practitioners and taxpayers are not disadvantaged by the impacts of system outages, the ATO plans to forgo penalties for failure to lodge on time for 2015–16 income tax returns and activity statements submitted by 31 August.

Results to date from submissions for the current tax year meanwhile indicate that the ATO’s systems are mostly working as expected. To date the agency has received over 700,000 income tax lodgements from individuals and tax agents and issued over $500 million in refunds.

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