Australian Taxation Office portals and online services are down once again

Some of the ATO's services, including its portals and myGov online functions, are currently unavailable or experiencing slowness.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Twelve days into the new financial year and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is already experiencing issues with its online services.

In a tweet, the ATO said some of its online services were down via myGov, the federal government's online service portal, which it touted as a secure way to access government services digitally with one login and one password.

"Some of our services (incl. the portals & our online services via myGov) are currently unavailable or experiencing slowness. We're working on the issue & apologise for the inconvenience. Stay tuned for updates," the ATO tweeted.

The post was made at 10.09am AEST.

The outage is the second in as many months, with the ATO reporting in early June that its online services were unavailable.

"Our online services are currently unavailable. We're working on a fix as a priority & will provide an update when the issue is resolved. Apologies for the inconvenience," the ATO said at the time, again via a tweet.

The Department of Human Services' systems also experienced the outage, saying in a tweet on Friday afternoon that people should wait until systems are fully restored before attempting to use its online services unless it is for urgent business.

"While we've seen significant improvements in our services, if you don't have urgent business, we encourage you to wait until services are fully restored to complete this to allow those with urgent business to access the services they need," Human Services said.   

Due to the outage, the Department of Human Services has extended the deadline for Centrelink income reporting to Friday, 7.30pm AEST, it explained.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers has labelled the outage as a "monumental stuff up", saying the Australian government needed to fix the outage so that people can lodge their tax returns.

"The government is responsible for this monumental stuff up today with the MyGov portal. The government needs to take responsibility for the fact that after they told everybody to get a tax return they completely stuffed that up so that people weren't able to get their tax return in. They should be issuing more than a one line statement," Chalmers said.   

Chalmers also attributed the outage to the Australian government's increased outsourcing to contractors and consultants for public services. 

"It's the fault of the government, which has been hollowing out the public service and replacing people with contractors and consultants; paying more for those contractors and consultants and getting worse outcomes for it." 

See also: Four years ago no one would know if we had an outage: ATO

The outages comes after the ATO spent 12 months dealing with IT issues that started in late 2016 including "one-of-a-kind" SAN outages.

Although the ATO said the issues were rectified, further service disruptions have continued to occur.

The government department had to turn its mainframe off and switch it back on again in July 2017 when a disruption occurred five days into the new financial year.

The department responded with promises of "smooth operating" IT, as well as the assurance of a more "connected and bulletproof" system than ever before.

Its last outage, prior to the June incident, was in March last year, after scheduled maintenance ran overtime.

Read also: Australia-wide AWS deal could signal the end for legacy IT procurement

After it was revealed in July that the ATO had prevented users from accessing its website if certain adblockers, firewalls, and anti-virus software were in place, the government entity removed a "bug" it said was present on its ato.gov.au page.

At the time, an ATO representative said its site-trackers collected anonymous usage data, and that it was working on allowing these to be disabled via browser add-on/adblockers.

Updated at 4.24pm AEST, 12 July 2018: Updated with Department of Human Services outage announcements and Shadow Treasurer comments.


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