ATO fixes system issues by turning it off and on again

Reboots mainframe

The Australian Taxation Office yesterday pulled offline its key services, including the myTax system used by individuals to file tax returns electronically, but says the issue not related to “recent hardware issues”.

The agency has previously suffered high-profile outages linked to storage hardware. The blame for ATO outages in December and February has been pinned on SAN failures.

A report issued by the agency in June revealed details of the two outages, with aging fibre cables being a key cause.

The report also revealed that the SAN at the centre of the problems has been designed with a “relative focus on performance” — which included not catering for greater than single drive failure or single cage failure.

Some of the SAN’s built-in resilience and monitoring features were not enabled, the report revealed.

The agency was also hit with a major service outage in June.

We identified intermittent system issues early this afternoon affecting our mainframe and impacting on our services to the community,” the ATO said in a statement released late yesterday after services were restored.

“This was caused by applications running incorrectly. We took controlled action to reboot our mainframe and resolve this issue.”

“We then brought our services back online methodically to ensure system availability and stability,” the ATO statement said.

“While an outage is not optimal, our decision today to address our degraded system performance was to ensure they were fully operational for the 8.00-9.00pm window when we know the majority of people choose to lodge their tax returns.”

No data was lost, the ATO said.

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan yesterday told the National Press Club that he couldn’t give “an iron-clad guarantee that all systems will work 100 per cent of the time”.

Tax Time had “begun well,” he said.

The ATO expected things to go smoothly but was “ready to respond quickly if there are any hiccups or unexpected outages,” the commissioner said.

The commissioner revealed that the agency’s entire IT infrastructure, platforms and services were the focus of an independent analysis commissioned by the ATO.

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