​ATO resolves 'intermittent issues' affecting its online services, again

The Australian Taxation Office has fixed the 'intermittent issues' plaguing its online services on Monday, a social media post from the government agency said.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: ATO

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has resolved the issues affecting its online services on Monday in yet another service disruption since it first experienced its "one of a kind" SAN outage in December 2016.

The ATO took to Twitter at 11.36am AEST on Monday to tell users its online services, including myTax and other online portals, were experiencing "intermittent issues", with another tweet at 4.42pm AEST confirming its services were back up and running.

"The issue affecting our online services has now been resolved, and all services are available. Thanks for your patience today," the ATO wrote.

The taxation office has suffered a handful of IT-related incidents spanning the past 10 months, from HPE SAN outages to mainframe reboots it performed in July.

In July, the ATO denied the outage it experienced was related to the HPE SAN issue that has been plaguing the government department since December, saying its systems were back up and running with full functionality following a disruption that impacted its mainframe five days into the new financial year.

"We identified intermittent system issues early this afternoon affecting our mainframe and impacting on our services to the community," the ATO said at the time. "This was caused by applications running incorrectly."

The ATO said it took "controlled action" to reboot its mainframe to resolve the issue.

While no official statement was released following Monday's outage, the ATO said previously that during tax time there may be times when some of its systems will require maintenance, system fixes, or upgrades at short notice. Scheduled maintenance is currently planned for September 30.

Speaking at the Technology in Government conference in Canberra last month, John Dardo, chief digital officer for the ATO, said the taxation office is focused on the challenge of making a system that is "more connected and bulletproof than ever before".

"Four years ago when we had an outage event or a slight decline in service, nobody noticed," Dardo said, adding the ATO is moving towards a fully digitised environment, but only where practical.

The ATO launched its myTax platform in 2014 and now boasts 3 million people lodging a return through myTax. It also has 1 million people using its mobile app, a number that is growing exponentially, Dardo noted.

"Four years ago, or even two years ago, if you were talking to the ATO through software, the software could batch and run; now the software is talking all the way through," he explained. "So as we look to the future, we have to think about how we architect the ATO's systems."

Addressing the National Press Club in July, Australian Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said the ATO expects its IT will operate smoothly in the future, having done everything it can to ensure this.

"We are ready to respond quickly if there are any hiccups or unexpected outages," Jordan said.

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