ATO gets go-ahead for single business register

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ATO gets go-ahead for single business register

Investigates commercially available platform options.

The Australian Taxation Office has invited pitches from suppliers for the platform that will become “the backbone” of Australia's single business register.

In August, the government began looking at merging the dozens of separate business registers that have developed for specific purposes over time and are now support by outdated technology.

It proposed creating a single whole-of-government register to improve the user experience for businesses, after feedback suggested the current process was “confusing” and created unnecessary burden.

The move followed the government abandoning plans to auction off ASIC’s registry late last year, which presented the need for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to upgrade the 25-year-old IT system sitting behind many of its corporate databases.

The government has now entrusted the Australian Taxation Office to conduct the first of what it says will be a multi-stage procurement process to establish a shortlist of potential suppliers for a government-wide registry platform.

The platform is expected to provide digital services that simplify the registry processes for businesses, leading to better business compliance and improved data accuracy.

“It will provide the backbone for transformative change in the way business interacts with government, making it simpler and faster to start and run a business as part of the national business simplification initiative (NBSI),” tender documents state.

Microservices and APIs will support all registry interactions, allowing real-time access to government services and data, and the platform will be delivered in line with Digital Transformation Agency’s digital service standard.

It must also “work seamlessly with the government’s business and individual digital identity framework”, and allow third-party providers to “develop retail offerings for users to interact with the register”.

While the program will initially focus on folding ASIC’s 31 registers and the ATO’s Australian business register (ABR) into a single register, the platform would also be expected to support each new register as it is brought online.

“A modernised platform should be configurable to support each register and the on-boarding of other business registers from all jurisdictions, potentially reducing costs and delivery time frames to government, while allowing modernisation of small jurisdiction registers that may not otherwise be feasible.”

The government is also looking at the current registry data model and whether it should expand the information on offer to "promote a growth in machine to machine transactions and foster e-commerce”.

The government also stressed that the public sector would continue to retain ownership of registers and data, much like the Medicare payments system replacement.

The ATO hopes to have awarded a contract by May 2018.

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