Tax Office to refresh web platform

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Tax Office to refresh web platform

CIO flags push to digital mailboxes for communication.

The Australian Taxation Office will no longer involve its IT staff in minor website updates from 1 July, when it moves off a 16-year-old, custom web publishing platform.

The Tax Office has used a customised IBM document manager since its April 1997 website launch – described as its “most far-reaching innovation” of the 1990s.

From 1 July, the Tax Office will use an off-the-shelf Ektron content management system for the site, which attracts some 60 million page visits a year.

Chief information officer Bill Gibson told an Optus customer conference this week the new platform would allow the agency to tailor webpages to different visitors and devices.

“Context is really important,” Gibson said, describing the Tax Office’s need to move away from a website that was “basically a table of contents for the whole tax system”.

“If you’ve identified yourself as an individual, we should be tailoring the page so that the things that are on there are the things that you need to access most.

“We have built a [content management platform] that can accommodate different device form factors without us having to build new technology.

“That is really powerful because I can then get on and do far more complicated things than … having to publish content on an ICT platform.”

Gibson said the Tax Office spent about $770 million on technology, of which $250 million was spent on transformational projects and change.

He flagged the Tax Office’s year-old SuperSeeker tool as a model for its future website.

SuperSeeker was introduced last January to allow citizens to find and consolidate their superannuation accounts and upgraded this February so users could electronically request funds transfers.

Citing the digital initiatives of other OECD nations, Gibson hoped to integrate Tax Office systems with those of its peers to allow citizens to interact with all federal agencies via a single entry point.

He called for citizen-centric services that automated processes when possible, so that Australians could choose to interact with the Tax Office only when necessary.

The Tax Office would likely use secure, digital mailboxes – like those in development by Australia Post and Digital Post Australia – instead of paper-based mail to communicate with citizens by the end of 2014, he said.

“Where we want to be is seamless interaction,” he said. “We’ll embrace digital by default [principles] and primarily develop and deliver services as online and self-service solutions.”

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