The Australian Taxation Office is set to introduce an enterprise-wide business intelligence and visualisation platform in a bid to democratise its vast data holdings for 20,000 staff.

It comes after the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Summer bushfires highlighted shortcomings in effective access to and use of data, especially at short notice.

Tender documents released by the national revenue agency last week call for new software to better empower staff to use the ATO’s tax and superannuation data without the need for specialist data skills.

The software platform will form the foundation of a new data democracy strategy, which was endorsed by the agency in March to “further drive data and information maturity”.

Future aspects of the strategy will seek to improve data literacy, introduce agreed common languages and definitions of data, and uplift trust, security and ethics in use of ATO data.

The platform will ensure the ATO workforce has “simple, user friendly tools” to “discover, access, analyse and visualise data to improve their division making and business outcomes”.

Much of the agency’s analysis, visualisation and reporting is currently labour intensive, involving manual handling in “non-enterprise tools with static data”.

This has proved problematic when there is a need for data at short notice, particularly during recent crises, to support “evidence-based decisions at critical times”.

The lack of an “enterprise-wide visualisation solution” also creates delays in accessing data to quickly support client engagement and other agencies.

The new cloud-based platform is expected to solve this by allowing staff to explore and extract data from “large and/or disparate datasets to inform decision making”.

It will contain self-service dashboards with drill down, export and data modelling functionality“, allowing staff to find patterns and forecast changes without specialist or technical knowledge.

As many as 5000 staff are expected to use the platform by the end of 2021, though the agency said this could climb to more than 20,000 over the next five years.

The ATO requires that the software platform be hosted in a “dedicated instance on a cloud hosting environment”, with the ability to source data from different hosting locations.

The agency’s private cloud, Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services are the preferred hosting environments.

In addition to the software, the ATO is seeking assistance with the platform’s integration with its existing Teradata, SAP and Microsoft SQL Server systems at a minimum.

It is also looking for help with the migration and rebuild of 42 existing SAS Visual Analytics solutions on the new platform, as well as the delivery of several high-value business cases.

Submissions to the tender will close November 5, with a contract expected by early February 2021.

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