The Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) has made its first moves to separate from the Australian Tax Office's IT environment, calling for a cloud computing solution to serve as its primary ICT infrastructure.
The Federal Government agency, formed in March 2010 to replace six state-based boards, provides registration and code compliance services for tax agents.
Though serviced by 14 of its own ICT staff, the board's infrastructure has existed "wholly within the ATO network" to date, with its 140 staff receiving ato.gov.au email addresses.
It has sought for the first time since its inception to separate its IT environment, in hopes of functioning as an independent statutory authority and to ensure "strategic and tactical decisions relating to ICT can be made independently of the ATO".
"However, despite this separation, there remains a need for all TPB staff to access data that currently resides in certain ATO business applications," the board noted in a request for tender.
The board sought increased flexibilty and greater cost effectiveness compared to current arrangements within the tax office's IT environment.
While acknowledging the cloud market is “not yet fully mature”, the board pushed in its approach to market for a solution based on cloud and hosted technologies.
In particular, the board signalled it is keen to incorporate “partial elements” of cloud computing and requested potential bidders provide this option in their tenders.
It proposed a hosted environment for email, video conferencing, website, document management and back-end office functions.
A virtual private network will also be deployed locally to facilitate connections into a separate environment that links with the ATO's infrastructure, which the RFT noted is still required for some business applications.
In addition to stringent requirements on data backup and servicing, the RFT states that locally-based user support will be sought.
The contract is expected to run for an initial four year term. Tender responses close March 2.