ATO commissions review after ‘worst unplanned outage in recent memory’

Independent ‘end to end’ review into storage failure

The Australian Taxation Office will commission a review by an independent expert to investigate the root causes of a widespread outage that saw the ATO’s core systems rendered inaccessible for several days.

The agency revealed earlier this week that a storage failure took down its website and other key services, including the Tax Agent Portal. The failure of an HP Enterprise SAN rolled out in November 2015 was compounded when the ATO’s backup storage system didn’t automatically kick in.

“The failure of our back-up arrangements meant that restoration and resumption of data and services has been very complex and time consuming,” Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan said in a statement issued today. He described it as the ATO's “worst unplanned system outage in recent memory ”.

Jordan said that the failure, which the ATO believes has not been encountered anywhere else in the world, has not led to the loss of any data.

“The issues we have experienced this week do not relate to our overall IT capability or skills,” the commissioner said.

Jordan said that no taxpayers will be disadvantaged because of the outage, and all refunds that were due to issue when the system went down on 12 December have now been processed and will be paid today and tomorrow.

He added that there may be some intermittent performance issues as ATO and HPE continue to work on restoring systems.

A draft scope of an “end-to-end” review into the outage states that the independent reviewer will examine what happened and why, and what needs to happen to ensure the ATO and the community are not exposed to this type of incident in the future”.

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