ATO website suffers prolonged outage after hardware failure

The ATO website has suffered a prolonged outage, including the Tax Agent Portal, due to a hardware issue.

ATO IT outage may delay superannuation rollovers, says APRA

Thursday

As of mid-morning Thursday many Tax Agent Portal services are shown as ‘Degraded Performance’, “this function is performing slowly. We are working to correct the issue as quickly as possible”.

Earlier on Thursday the ATO provided the following update:

Thursday Morning Update
15 Dec 2016, 8:51AM AEDT

We have again worked through the night with our partners to continue to restore functionality of our core systems.

The Tax Agent Portal, BAS Portal and Business Portal are back online and we expect to see continued improvements in the functionality of these services, as well asato.gov.au(External link), today.

We have done what we can to restore priority services and acknowledge there is a significant amount of work to stabilise our IT environment and bring remaining applications back online.

We appreciate the community’s patience today as there will be increased traffic through our systems as people start to use them again.

We are also working to restore system and application related data that was affected by the outage. Once again, no taxpayer data has been lost.

Our priority focus today is on restoring systems that process refunds, and we will fast-track refunds where we can in the lead-up to Christmas.

Wednesday

Update from the ATO:

Wednesday Afternoon update
14 Dec 2016, 5:50PM AEDT

We have been continuing to work to restore a number of core services today including the Tax Agent Portal and the BAS Agent Portal. We’d like to thank the many tax agents who helped us work to verify and test these services today. We appreciate their efforts in trying circumstances.

Over the course of Wednesday afternoon, we have experienced further performance issues as we have sought to restore our services. This has impacted the availability of our portals and ato.gov.au at different times of the afternoon.

We are working on restoring the website and the portals to full functionality as a priority. Specialist technicians from the ATO and HPE will continue to work around the clock to restore these services. Once these have been restored, we will focus our efforts on other core services as well as processing payments and refunds.

We anticipate that there may continue to be intermittent disruptions over the coming days as we continue the process to restore full services. The performance of different systems will vary as this restoration process is undertaken.

We will continue to provide further updates as they become available.

We’d like to reiterate that no data has been lost, and our systems have not been compromised. This is a complex restoration process requiring significant manual processing which unfortunately is taking longer than we expected to complete.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we undertake this restoration, and apologise for any inconvenience.

As of Wednesday afternoon www.ato.gov.au is back up, though many services – including the Tax Agent Portal – are still experiencing what the ATO terms a “Major Outage”.

“Thank you for your patience,” said an ATO statement following bringing www.ato.gov.au back online on Tuesday evening.

“You may find you’re unable to access certain tools, calculators and our online services while we continue working to restore all of our services. ”

“If you’re still seeing a website maintenance page when you visit the site, we recommend clearing your browser cookies and cache.”

However the Tax Agent Portal is still down, with the ATO expecting to bring it back online later on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning the ATO said:

ATO experts and our partners at HPE have continued to work around the clock to bring our core systems back online.

We can confirm that there has been no loss of data. While we experienced some corruption of data, we are in the process of fully restoring this information from back-up. No taxpayer information has been compromised.

ato.gov.au has been live since yesterday afternoon. The links from the website to other impacted systems will be restored as these come back online. Our case management systems are back up and running.

We are working towards bringing the Tax Agent Portal back online later today and will confirm when it is functional.

Other services will be brought online gradually over the coming days and we will continue to keep the community informed of our progress.

We will work with any clients to ensure they are not disadvantaged because of the systems issues.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we have worked through these issues and apologise for any inconvenience.

Tuesday

On Tuesday afternoon the ATO said it was “working closely” with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), its external service provider, to resolve the issues with online services, portals and the ATO website.

“No taxpayer information has been compromised,” said the ATO statement.

“Specialist engineers have been working through the night with ATO staff to rectify the outages.”

“These outages relate to a new hardware storage solution that was upgraded in November 2015. Our primary back-up systems, that should have kicked in immediately, were also affected. We understand this is the first time this problem has been encountered anywhere in the world and we are working with HPE to determine the underlying cause. While these investigations are ongoing, we have had to implement alternative recovery procedures that are taking longer to complete.”

“At this stage, we are working towards critical systems such as the Tax Agent Portal and ato.gov.au being available later today.”

“We apologise for any inconvenience our clients may have experienced.”

“We have the right people with the right skills who are committed to restoring our services as quickly as possible.”

“We will provide further updates during the day.”

Later on Tuesday the ATO issued the following statement:

Afternoon Update
13 Dec 2016, 04:30:00PM

ATO experts continue to work with our partners at HPE to secure and restore IT services.

We will work with all clients to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged as a result of these systems issues.

Alternative work arrangements have been made for those ATO staff impacted by the outage.

We hope to resume key services like the Tax Agent Portal and some services on ato.gov.au later today.

After full restoration, investigations will continue on the cause of the outage to ensure we treat the underlying issues and determine why the switch-over to back-up systems failed on this occasion.

Labor Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh said: “With the Australian Taxation Office website outage now stretching into its second day, the Turnbull Government must explain why it is unable to provide basic online services to Australians.”

“The tax office site outage is inconveniencing taxpayers and tax agents alike. This comes just four months after the Turnbull Government stuffed up the 2016 Census and wasted millions of hours of Australians’ time.”

“As with the Census, no doubt the Turnbull Government’s first instinct will be to blame a public servant. Australians deserve a government that will take responsibility, not point the finger.”

Monday

Visitors to www.ato.gov.au have been greeted by the message:

Australian Taxation Office – website not available

You have tried to access the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

Our website is currently not available.

We apologise for the inconvenience and assure you of our commitment to provide you with the best possible experience of using our online services.

We thank you for your patience as we work to restore our services.

Early on Monday morning the ATO said it was investigating the issue and apologised for the inconvenience.

By mid-afternoon on Monday a hardware issue had been identified, but despite working overnight the issue was not fixed by Tuesday morning.

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