A.4.1 In July 2010, Inside Story presented its report, S&ME Compliance Officer Research, to the SME business line. The report identified the characteristics of expert compliance officers in five core areas and created an 'Expertise Assessment Tool' from these areas:
1. Strategic thinking
1.1 Convergent thinking —Can distil a large volume of information down to core issues
1.2 Investigative ability (Divergent thinking) —Identifies critical information sources and asks a range of questions to uncover valuable information
1.3 Critical thinking— Seeks to verify identified information, close gaps and resolve discrepancies
1.4 Diagnostic ability— Explores context and relationships between individuals and between individuals and companies to identify beneficiaries of transactions and deals. Seeks to identify path of money and other benefits.
1.5 Recognises links between interconnected issues —Can recognise & identify patterns in information/data/facts bringing multiple elements together
1.6 Focuses strategically — Understands ATO objectives and prioritises work accordingly taking into consideration whether cases and individual risks are material, worth pursuing and pose a reputation risk to ATO
2. Draws from previous experience
2.1 Interprets taxpayer motivations— Able to identify potential taxpayer motivations from case facts and information
2.2 Applies knowledge of an industry— Applies knowledge or actively seeks out to inform themselves about characteristics of an industry to help interpret facts on a current case
3.1 Displays confidence— Expresses confidence in moving case forward, knowing what steps to take next, consulting others. Able to maintain momentum on case when faced with uncertainty
4. Productive working relationships
4.1 Able to establish rapport and build relationships — Establishes rapport with taxpayers, agents and other representatives
4.2 Seeks cooperative solutions and avoids confrontation— Seeks cooperative agreement on actions and avoids confrontation,
4.3 Communicates process and keeps taxpayer informed of progress — Communicates process and keeps taxpayer informed of progress. Willingness to communicate.
4.4 Personal integrity— Recognises importance of and deals with taxpayers and their representatives transparently and honestly
5. Negotiation skills
5.1 Effectively overcomes delaying tactics— Recognises delaying tactics used by taxpayers and agents and employs effective response
5.2 Able to effectively communicate ATO position in adversarial situations— Able to deal with conflict and communicate ATO position without becoming judgmental. Resilience in adversarial situations — able to remain focused on objectives and not become intimidated
5.3 Judicious use of formal powers— Uses formal powers as a last resort only when diplomatic negotiations have been unsuccessful77
77 'S&ME Compliance Officer Research', a report commissioned by and prepared for the SME Executive, July 2010.