The Australian Taxation Office website has continued its run of crashes, with the latest leaving the site offline for four days.
Systems affected include the Tax Agent, Business and BAS Agent portals, ATO Online services, Standard Business Reporting services and superannuation online services.
There was a major crash last December, when unconfirmed reports said that up to a petabyte (1,000 terabytes) of data had been lost.
The most recent occured last Thursday, 2 February. Some systems were not restored until Monday morning.
The ATO announced on 24 January that it had appointed consultancy PwC to conduct an independent review into the problems, because of their specific expertise with the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise storage subsystem, installed in November 2015, which it describes as being “at the centre of the incident.”
HPE technicians worked with the ATO all weekend to restore the systems, but no cause has been found. The PwC review is due to be finalised in March.
The ATO is also conducting its own internal review, “which will focus on our key stakeholders, including tax professionals and software developers.”
The problems have attracted the attention of the Federal Opposition on the first parliamentary sitting day of 2017.
Somebody, say something!
Ed Husic, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, noted that no-one in the Government has seen fit to comment on the problems.
“Disturbingly, no senior figure from the Government has stepped forward to offer an explanation: not the Treasurer Scott Morrison or Revenue Minister Kelly O’Dwyer,” said Mr Husic in a statement. “And the Government’s ‘techsperts’, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Assistant Minister Angus Taylor, have been uncharacteristically quiet, providing no explanation for the outage.”
Mr Husic mentioned Paul Shetler, who recently left the Digital Transformation Agency in unpleasant circumstances and has since become a major critic of the Government’s technology strategies and management.
“Mr Shetler has decried the digital de-skilling of government departments that has happened on the Turnbull Government’s watch.”
Mr Shetler has indeed become a thorn in the side for the Government, after being brought to Australia with great fanfare and at some expense from the UK in 2015 to oversee Malcolm Turnbull’s digital transformation of government.
He has been scathing about the current Centrelink debacle, the ABS meltdown during last year’s census, and what he says is a dysfunctional approach to technology in many departments. “Infrastructure failures like the ATO or the Census were easily preventable,” he told the Australian Financial Review in the wake of the latest ATO problems.
“These are all predictable outcomes and as long as you have a public service that's not really comfortable with twenty-first century technology, and which still views its own departmental in-group as being more important than its end users, then you'll end up with these problems.”