A.1.1 The contract between the ATO and Accenture defines the 'Change Program' as the following:

  1. Through consultation and co-design with its clients, [the ATO] has identified a number of improvements to our products and services that will deliver an improvement in client experience. Collectively, they form [the ATO's] blueprint for future tax administration. [The ATO] has commenced a program to deliver these improvements (Change Program).
  2. The Change Program is to achieve the following:
    1. dealing with the tax system will become easier for the community;
    2. use of on-line channels will increase the availability and access to information about tax processes and advice;
    3. the taxpayer experience will be more personalised through more on-line services, reduced record keeping, targeted information, access to own data, and all client history available at point of contact;
    4. [The ATO] will deliver a more responsive service to the community through significantly improved service standards; and
    5. [The ATO] will have the flexibility to implement future changes, in a seamless manner, to the taxation system required by governments.
  3. The Change Program will:
    1. enhance the client experience;
    2. create a seamless client experience across channels, products and operational processes;
    3. build a more sustainable basis for [the ATO] to meet expectations by:
      1. bringing its systems into a current day technology framework, making them Web enabled and able to respond to the community in real or near-real time;
      2. replacing its core legacy applications that continue to be a large drain on its resources and impede it from delivering client expectations;
      3. building new capability and capacity to respond more quickly and flexibly to demands from the government and the community;
      4. reducing the marginal costs of implementing change; and
      5. enhancing operational performance through improved productivity.

A.1.2 The ATO publication, The Australian Taxation Office: Change Program, Canberra March 2010, also defines the Change Program. Extracts from that publication are reproduced below.

The Change Program

The Start of the Change Program

In March 2002, the Change Program journey began when we started our 'Listening to the Community' initiative. This was a new way for us to obtain feedback, one that involved working with small businesses, tax agents, industry and the community in general.

'Listening to the Community' allowed us to comprehend the range of difficulties and issues that taxpayers had experienced when they interacted with the Australian tax system.

This consultation process enabled us to develop an array of short and long-term improvements to the way we administer the tax system.

Collectively, these improvements were a key input into what is now commonly known as our Change Program.

The Change Program Objectives

Based on the findings of the 'Listening to the Community' initiative the objectives we developed for the Change Program were to:

  • deliver improvements to the client experience
  • reduce operational costs
  • improve flexibility and sustain ability for future change.

To achieve this we set out to:

  • develop systems that are integrated, flexible and easier to change
  • have a single system for case management
  • have a single system for client relationship management
  • provide staff with a single view of client information
  • enable staff to undertake all work electronically (no paper).

Change Program Timeline

2002

'Listening to the community' program helps us develop ideas to make it easier and cheaper for people to comply with their tax obligations.

A web portal is developed for tax agents to interact with us securely online.

2003

Further improvements to the web portal for tax agents introduced

A web portal for small business is developed and launched for small business

Improvements to our call centres and correspondence are introduced, increasing consistency for our clients.

2004-05

Accenture is contracted in December 2004 to deliver a single integrated system through three releases.

Release 1 sees the implementation of a single client relationship management system. This provides improved staff efficiencies and client experiences.

  • information about each client is accessible from one system rather than multiple systems
  • electronic versions of client correspondence can be viewed in the same system as client information
  • more prompt and personalised service delivered to the client with more queries answered in a single call
  • Tax officers are able to view client's entire tax history
2006-07

Release 2 enables over 13,000 staff in over 1,000 teams across 60 sites to fundamentally change the way they carry out their work.

We replace approximately 180 case management systems with a single ATO-wide case management system.

  • staff can better understand what else is happening to a client they are working with
  • staff can better plan, predict and track work more effectively
  • turnaround time for client queries is reduced
  • clients now deal with a Tax officer who has a more complete understanding of their dealings with us
  • online, phone and paper products and services improved
  • all inbound letters are actioned electronically
2008-10

Release 3 is the largest information technology deployment the ATO has ever undertaken.

It provides a single way of working across the ATO and involves rolling out:

  • our new Integrated Core Processing system
  • updates to Siebel Case Management to action requests for advice

A Single Way of Working Across the Tax Office

Image showing a single, integrated system for working across the tax office.

View image enlarged

A single integrated system provides many benefits.

New ATO-wide business processes and two systems - Siebel and Integrated Core Processing system -make it much easier for staff to do their job.

New business processes and better systems help us to:

  • provide a more efficient service to the community
  • manage our workload better because of improved reporting and streamlined processes
  • gain more transportable skills to use across the office.

Integrated systems will also be more responsive to policy and legislation changes, making it easier to incorporate these changes into our work.

Release 3

Release 3 was the largest and most complex release ever undertaken by the ATO. It was broken up into stages spread over a number of years to:

  • minimise risk
  • minimise impact on the community
  • allow policy and legislative changes to be incorporated.
FBT > Superannuation >

Interpretive Assistance and First Home Saver Accounts

> Income Tax > Tax Time
April 2008 2008-2009 July 2009 January 2010 July 2010

Included Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) into Integrated Core Processing

This means that the end‑to‑end processing of lodgments, payments, refunds and notices for FBT is done in our new system

 

Included superannuation into Integrated Core Processing:

  • September 2008 lost members register
  • January 2009 member co‑contributions, and Superannuation Holding Accounts special account

This means that the end‑to‑end processing of lodgments, payments, refunds and notices, and debt for these are all in the one system

 

Included Interpretive assistance into Siebel

Deployed First Home Saver Accounts into Integrated Core Processing

Deployed Superannuation Excess Contributions Tax into Integrated Core Processing

 

Included income tax into Integrated Core Processing including returns for:

  • individual
  • companies
  • partnership
  • trusts
  • super funds

 

  Tax time 2010 to use Integrated Core Processing

Having a single integrated system means all our work is being carried out electronically:

  • Integrated Core Processing is the key part of our plans to have an integrated system for all our work.
  • All tax and superannuation accounts, registrations, forms and payments, and follow-up work relating to debts and lodgements will be processed using the single integrated system.
  • Siebel has provided the ATO with a single case management, workflow and client relationship management system.
  • The Change Program has also delivered an enhanced reporting capability and a range of tools to support the business and tax agent communities.

Our New Income Tax System

Our new income tax system is the largest IT deployment we have ever undertaken and is amongst the largest anywhere in Australia.

It replaces the National Taxpayer System (NTS), which has processed income tax returns for the past 30 years and processes all tax returns for:

  • individuals
  • companies
  • superannuation funds
  • trusts
  • partnerships.

We took a careful and cautious approach to implementing our new income tax system:

  • We stopped processing returns from early January 2010 so that we could transfer all taxpayer records from the old system to the new.
  • The transfer began on 24 January 2010 and it took us two days to successfully convert and verify they had transferred correctly approximately:
    • 27 million taxpayer records
    • 32 million accounts
    • 282 million forms.

We began processing income tax returns in the new system on 1 February 2010:

  • Between 1 February and 12 February we undertook a production pilot where we processed small numbers of returns to verify the system was working as expected.
  • From 15 February we progressively increased the number of returns processed until 1 March 2010, by which time all returns on hand had been entered into the new system.
  • We returned to normal processing turnarounds on 1 March 2010.

Between 1 February and 10 March 2010 we processed over 1.2 million returns in the new system.

Cost of the Change Program

Since it began, scope of the Change Program has changed several times largely due to legislative changes.

  • In December 2004 the original budget was $445 million.
  • At 30 June 2009 the budget was $749 million.
  • At 31 December 2009 the budget was $780 million.

$245 million of the Change Program budget increases relates to legislative changes (principally superannuation simplification - $196 million).

Figure: Breakdown of overall Change Program budget

Pie chart giving a breakdown of the overall Change Program budget.

Change Program Achievements

The objectives we developed for the Change Program were to:

  • deliver improvements to the client experience
  • reduce operational costs
  • improve flexibility and sustainability for future change

To achieve this we set out to:

  • develop systems that are integrated, flexible and easier to change
  • have a single system for case management
  • have a single system for client relationship management
  • provide staff with a single view of client information
  • enable staff to undertake all work electronically (no paper)

Benefits of the Change Program

Benefits include:

  • Tax agents now have better online access to more integrated and personalised information
  • Individuals can notify us about changes to their personal details once, for all their tax and superannuation affairs
  • Businesses experience more timely processing of forms and more certainty of status
  • People contacting the ATO can be confident that we will quickly understand their position and provide a more tailored service to meet their needs.

Now and in Future

Currently, we are focusing on:

  • bedding in our new income tax system to ensure it continues to work well
  • making sure that our new income tax system and our people are ready for our peak lodgement period between July and October
  • ensuring that we have a stable platform to implement any policy and legislative changes asked of us.