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ANAO report: Unscheduled taxation system outages

The Australia National Audit Office (ANAO) Has released its report into whether the ATO effectively responded to the recent unscheduled information technology (IT) system outages (the most significant of which occurred in December 2016 and February 2017).

The ANAO notes that online services have become the primary means of transacting with the ATO, so it is therefore important that the ATO’s systems are accessible, as there are few or no practical alternatives to doing business when these systems and services are unavailable.

However, despite limited planning for critical infrastructure failure, the ANAO concluded that the ATO’s responses to the incidents ere largely effective, as it worked closely with the contracted information, communications and technology services providers to identify the system fault a restore services in line with activation guidelines but could have better communicated with stakeholders throughout the incidents.

The ATO has since updated its communication strategy with a greater focus on providing relevant and useful information to internal and external stakeholders, using multiple channels, during system failures and unscheduled outages.

The ATO also released a report into the above two system failures in June 2017, which outlined the causes of the system failures and impacts on stakeholders, analyzed the ATO responses, and provided 14 recommendations for more resilient and accessible systems and services in the future.

As of November 2017, the ATO had implemented 4 of the 14 recommendations and partly implemented the remaining 10 recommendations.

The ANAO made 3 recommendations in its report to make further improvements, and the ATO agreed with those 3 recommendations.

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