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ATO promises to keep hardware and software up-to-date

ATO promises to keep hardware and software up-to-date

Reveals details of plan to tackle constant system outages

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed some details of its IT Systems Improvement Program, which is set to strengthen the core IT platforms and improve resilience.

The four-year program was revealed in a submission to the digital delivery of government services inquiry, which comes on the back of Labor’s push for the Senate to look into the current government’s digital transformation blunders, such as the Census failure and repeated ATO website crashes.

Specifically, the IT Systems Improvement Program will focus on improving the availability of its top eight applications which include services like the Practitioner Lodgement Service (PLS), Single Touch Payroll (STP) and SuperTICK.

As part of the program, the ATO plans to refresh some of the core IT infrastructure assets to a “more contemporary standard” to reduce the inherit risk associated with legacy infrastructure failure.

This is a response to the constant IT failures and outages the ATO has experienced since its systems failed in December 2016.

"Our old hardware assets will be refreshed and will continue to be kept up-to-date as required, so that hardware and software do not become obsolete and introduce vulnerabilities,” the ATO said.

"As well as reducing the number and duration of unplanned outages due to better resiliency, the program will reduce planned maintenance downtimes."

The ATO said that improvements in availability have already started.

Delving deeper, the plan is to rebuild its internal IT system was first mentioned in the report into the outage, which revealed that analysis of SAN log data for the six months preceding the incident indicated potential issues with the Sydney SAN similar to those experienced during the December outage.

The ATO latest outage happened only last week when some online services hit trouble following scheduled system upgrades over the weekend.

An ATO spokesperson confirmed at the time that the disruption had affected some of its online services, including ATO Online and the Tax Agent, BAS and Business Portals.

Customers should get used to scheduled weekend maintenance with two taking place over the next two weekends and another three planned until the end of 2017.

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