Human Services, super next on list for SBR

Standard Business Reporting likely to become compliant with Human Services forms and superannuation in years to come

The Australian Treasury has targeted the Department of Human Services and superannuation as next on the list for inclusion in the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) scheme.

As of 14 July, the Treasury has seen nearly 80,000 individual AUSkeys assigned to 55,438 businesses, with a growth of around 2,500 new AUSkeys per day since registrations opened on 17 May this year. The new standard reporting initiative has allowed businesses to report through compliant accounting packages or SBR-enabled software to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), as well as individual state revenue offices.

The new AUSkey API has also been enabled for the Australian Business Register (ABR) and the ATO, with plans to open up to secure web portals for ASIC by September, as well as NSW, ACT and QLD state revenue offices by June next year.

The Treasury has planned for the SBR scheme and AUSkey platform to become fully operational and the platform of choice for business-to-government reporting by the 2013/2014 financial year, with expectations that 60 per cent of Australian businesses will have signed up and will be using it by then. Estimates that the new scheme can save businesses up to $800 million per year are not expected to be achieved until that year.

Once completed, SBR program director, Paul Madden, told Computerworld Australia that Human Services, superannuation and business reporting to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) would be next on the list.

"We're working with the Department of Finance [and Deregulation] to look at other business reporting like Human Services; we'll be looking at that to determine the business case," he said. "We also have the report from the Productivity Commissioner into not-for-profits, and we're looking into that on the Commonwealth and State level."

Businesses are currently able to pre-fill and submit 19 of APRA's form through SBR, but Madden said Treasury was looking to get all 400 of the authority's forms online by the beginning of the next financial year.

Madden said the Treasury was entertaining the idea of using AUSkey in a wider federated login service, providing access to more departments than is available in the current, citizen-based system run by the Department of Human Services. The notion could become more worthwhile if recommendations from the Cooper Review into superannuation were to be implemented, but the AUSkey's current requirement for ABN to be identified was a potential barrier.

"Trying to bring that across to individuals and citizens is a bit of a stretch, but what we can do is look at the model that we've created for AUSkey, which is a registration process where you can prove yourself based on a relationship with the agencies and, from there, start to issue credentials that can be federated across government."

While the SBR scheme - flagged in the Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for Reform of Australian Government Administration report on public service reform - purports to simplify business-to-government reporting, Linux users have cried foul over the lack of AUSkey compatibility with the platform, while the ATO has told some businesses that the software "doesn't like Macs".

"There's some more discussions we've got to have with AUSkey about Linux," Madden said. "If we get through the Linux process where Linux themselves would like to provide support for some of these facilities, those facilities will get published the same way as the rest of the Linux things do, in an open source way."

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