ATO moving toward digitalisation at a fast pace


Things should just happen automatically, that’s the main aim of the Australian Taxation Office’s move to the digital space.

CeBIT presenter John Dardo, the ATO’s Assistant Commissioner Digital Strategy & Design, says that the agency is pushing full steam ahead to improve access and interaction with their services through customer feedback and data analysis.

While making the online world “bigger and better” is a critical factor, it’s not the end game, with Mr Dardo saying the ultimate goal is for integration between services to happen naturally.

 “If we do this right, tax and other stuff just happens,” he says.

However, nothing is ever all smooth sailing and the ATO face one debilitating factor, identity security. It’s their main issue - how can you give someone complete access to private and personal data and ensure they’re the person who should be seeing it?

But with planning the ATO are well on their way.

For example, in September 2014 the ATO’s voice biometric system was introduced. This system enables the ATO customer service team to recognise and identify the user’s voice. Once the person has been authenticated their profile is automatically available for the ATO staff member helping them. This enables the ATO to help them with their question or enquiry quicker than ever before. No need for passwords, access codes, or as Mr Dardo says, the inflexible and cumbersome AusKeys the government is moving away from.

But this is only the start.

The agency is in the midst of developing their Authenticator App, which enables a smartphone notification to gain access to your information via this specific device. For example, if you wanted to log on to MyGov from your smart TV, you can do so by going to the website, entering a nickname for the device (eg. Smart TV). Once this is done a notification will pop up on your smartphone with the Authenticator App installed. You’ll be prompted to input your fingerprint. No need for a password, key, token, one-time access code, log in etc. This means you can now access your information from a Smart TV or any other registered device.

The Authenticator App also presents challenges, specifically at the enrolment stage where a user has to remotely identify themselves. This requires a user to download the app and submit documents. The app then checks for fraud and the user needs to submit an image or video to prove that they’re alive and their face matches their ID documents. While the initial enrolment might be considered cumbersome, it’s a one-off time investment and removes the need for tokens or keys to access services on different devices.

There’s so much more in the pipeline to streamline services from the ATO including moving into automated business reporting. For instance, from next year it will become much easier to make a tax file number declaration when starting a new job. New employees will be able to log onto MyGov – their tax details, superfund information and much more will automatically pre-fill. This will save time, data entry and paperwork for the employer, employee and the ATO. Just like Mr Dardo says, in today’s day and age things should just happen.

Stay tuned, in the comming weeks we will discuss more about the ATO's move to digital innovation.