ATO searches for “chatty” digital services platform

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ATO searches for “chatty” digital services platform

For better API-based interactions.

The Australian Taxation Office has started searching for a future digital services platform to deliver “chatty” digital services to its tax and super clients using APIs.

Australia's revenue agency this week kicked-off the official hunt for a replacement for its existing e-ecommerce platform to transform how digital services are consumed for reporting obligations.

The work is happening under the ATO digital services modernisation program, which aims to accommodate ever-increasing demand for its digital services by ensuring systems are low-touch and centred around “digital events through user’s natural systems”.

The agency’s current e-commerce platform – or messaging platform – uses machine to machine type messaging to interact with taxpayers, super funds and nominated intermediaries like tax professionals and digital services providers.

It sits behind multiple digital services such as income tax and employer obligations through programs like single touch payroll, the employee superannuation guarantee known as SuperStream and the practitioner lodgement service (PLS).

“The platform supports reporting obligations and business event interactions including; interactive, bulk, push and pull (initiated from either the ATO or a software package) and user services,” tender documents state.

While the platform was only delivered in 2014, the ATO said a “significant increase in demand” had occurred in this time.

It put this down to changes in the way users interact with systems and services and a “substantial rise” in digital solutions that integrate with agency systems.

Application Programing Interfaces (APIs), for instance, are expected to grow from 70 in 2014 to more than 600 by 2020.

“The ATO is forecasting a significant increase in demand for digital services, driven by more stakeholders and developers wanting to connect to the ATO as well as contemporary digital technologies and a shift away from paper and forms-based transactions,” the agency said.

The ATO has asked industry to propose a platform that consists of two components: a digital services gateway (DSG) and digital reporting channel (DRC).

The DSG will “fulfil the complete life-cycle management for APIs”, allowing clients to “interact and consume quick, small and data driven services” through their software.

“The role of the desired solution will be to manage information exchange with the near-real-time services of these back-end systems,” tender documents state.

“Predominately this will be through the ATO’s integration layer IBM Information Bus (IIB), although increasingly into the future this will be via other lighter-weight approaches, e.g. HTTP and AMQP.”

The DRC, on the other hand, will become the agency’s future messaging platform to accommodate increases in transactions.

However ATO expects that the existing messaging platform can be modernised “to deliver digital services, messaging standards and capabilities on a much larger scale and in a more efficient way”.

“This platform is not considered legacy to the Digital Services Gateway, it is considered complementary in providing an effective and holistic digital services ecosystem,” tender documents state.

“The ATO is open to modernising the existing solution varying from full refresh, partial refresh or operate what we have.”

Both solutions are anticipated to be delivered via an ASD certified public cloud product due to the need to service “significant demand peaks” and ensure high availability.

The agency also wants to know if the platform and components can be deliver “as a single solution or should be two separate solutions”.

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