ATO’s Peter Wilson retires

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Peter Wilson, the Australian Taxation Office’s, primary executive for technology, and engineer of the organisation’s information management strategies is retiring after 39 years of service

Peter Wilson, the Australian Taxation Office's, primary executive for technology, and engineer of the organisation's information management strategies is retiring after 39 years of service.

Wilson maintains he has not applied for the recently created Chief Information Office's role at the ATO, and his departure is completely voluntary and simply because after 39 years he has a desire to do other things.

'I think everyone should change jobs after 39 years, whether they need to or not' he says. 'I left school on a Friday in 1964 and began at the Taxation Office on the Monday, and I have been here ever since and had the most exciting job in the world. Working for the Taxation Office has opened doors for me right around the world.

'I probably have five or six years of service to give, and I feel that if you feel you want to do different things, and experience different things, you have to do it while you can, and for me that is now,' Wilson says, although he says in the short term he will be concentrating on completing the house he is building.

'I am not going to another position, I want to spend six to eight weeks to finish the house I am having built and will consider opportunities as they arise down the track,' he says, admitting that he's asked his wife how she feels about the prospect of being married to a pensioner. 'It's a very exciting time and there are enormous opportunities for those hard working smart people at the Tax Office as they continual to develop processes to make it easier for people to meet their taxation obligations.'

'As long as we have conversations about business and IT, IT and business, we are missing the point,' Wilson says, reiterating his driving vision for effective IT to be more about business than technology. 'We have to talk about the outcomes we seek, in bringing together the right groups of people. Suggestion of having technologists and business people is dysfunctional, were all business people.'

'Having separate groups provides an opportunity for blame. We must remove all opportunities for blame, because when you have blame you no longer have a team, committed to deliver on single outcomes. 

Reflecting on almost four decades of service, Wilson says he is honoured to have worked with so many talented people who have helped make the ATO one of the best revenue authorities, using and developing information technology, in the world.

'One of the most satisfying and exciting projects with which I was involved was driving the ATO's re-equipment of its computer infrastructure back in 1989,' he says. 'The current renewal process the organisation is going through at the moment is pretty exciting, I have a bit of regret about not being at the end of that journey.'

'I think the taxation office's greatest challenge is to live up to its challenges and ambitions. It is very aggressive in what trying to accomplish,' he says. 'There are a range of tendering processes on at the moment, which I am not able to comment on here, but there is important work around web-based architectures that I have been working on with some talented people at the CSIRO which is exciting.

Wilson agrees that while he will consider opportunities as they arise, it would be 'very strange' to think of any position that would involving selling product.

'My thanks goes to all the people I have worked with and all the people who have I have stolen ideas from,' he says. 'The sum of my experience comes from all the people who have helped make me who I am.


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