The gloves are off over the Australian Taxation Office’s ongoing IT woes, with Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, suggesting that the agency’s technology partner, Hewlett Packard Enterprise has “failed” to reliably provide it with its contracted services.
“Initial indications are there has been a failure by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide contracted services in a reliable way and ensure stability of our systems,” Jordan said in a statement published on 8 February.
The comments come after suggestions by the media that tax time 2017, beginning on 1 July, could be under threat due to ongoing technical issues arising from systems outages caused by the “unprecedented” failure of storage hardware that had been upgraded in November 2015 by HPE.
Since the initial outage, which struck on 12 December, 2016, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has intermittently taken services offline as it worked with HPE to replace the failed hardware and restore systems to full capacity.
A Fairfax media report published on 8 February suggested that the ATO could not “guarantee it will begin tax time on 1 July” as it continues work to restore affected infrastructure and systems.
However, Jordan has rejected the claims, saying that the suggestions are “completely without foundation”.
“It is disappointing that some people are trying to create unnecessary mischief during what has already been a challenging and testing time for the community and the ATO,” Jordan said.
“This is very unfortunate as it undermines the commitment and good work that our people have undertaken to return ATO services to normal operation and bring them back online as quickly and reliably as possible,” he said.
Certainly, ATO and HPE technicians have been putting in some long hours to rectify the fallout of the hardware failure and the resulting systems issues, with teams from both organisations working throughout the Christmas period, during weekends, and even through the night.
The agency revealed on 4 February that it had commissioned a new Storage Area Network (SAN) to “provide better services in the future,” saying that the fresh hardware had arrived at ATO premises.
The arrival was followed by weekend-long marathon effort working with HPE engineers to replace the failed hardware and restore systems.