CIO100 2017 #31-100: Gary Baird, Inland Revenue NZ
“Inland Revenue is transforming. We are putting customers at the centre and re-shaping the way customers interact with us, including making improvements to policy and legislative settings,” says its Chief Technology Officer Gary Baird.
“We are making tax simpler and faster to help our customers meet their payment obligations, and to receive the payments they are entitled to.”
In November 2015, Inland Revenue received Capital approval for a multi-year business transformation programme. “The programme will make it simpler and more certain for New Zealanders to pay their taxes and receive their entitlements," he says.
A significant milestone was reached in August 2015 when Inland Revenue appointed FAST Enterprises as the supplier of software for the core tax and social policy system (START).
START will give Inland Revenue a single view of the customer - accounts, history, connections, feedback and more - in close to real-time. Customers will get the information and assistance they need when they need it.
The new system will also allow Government to make policy changes faster and more cost effectively, he says.
START will give Inland Revenue a single view of the customer - accounts, history, connections, feedback and more - in close to real-time.
Increasing integration with private and public sector business partners is a key feature of the future revenue system, says Baird.
For instance, Inland Revenue has worked with Xero and MYOB so customers can file their GST returns directly through their accounting software. From January to the end of October 2016, there were more than 43,000 GST submissions filed through software.
Another critical aspect of the transformation programme has been the establishment of new core technology infrastructure components. This has seen the implementation of a new enterprise application integration solution using Oracle Fusion Middleware and a new Identity and Access Management System.
In February this year the first stage of Inland Revenue’s business transformation was successfully introduced. Managing GST online is now quicker and easier for customers with a range of new services to make tax simpler. Since February, hundreds of thousands of returns have been handled in the system, and more than $3 billion was collected in the first month since it went live. They are now looking forward to Stage 2 of business transformation, with planning already underway.
Inland Revenue is also increasingly utilising all-of-government common capabilities and ‘as-a-service’ solutions. This has included establishing two new datacentres using the ‘infrastructure as a service’ solution and new Telecommunications-as-a-Service solutions.
Collecting tax and paying entitlements, while keeping core operational systems running, is critical for the running of New Zealand’s economy Baird says. This year Inland Revenue collected $64.3 billion to fund government services for communities, families and businesses.
Baird explains at Inland Revenue, decisions about key IT infrastructure are made at the highest level, and the CTO is part of the executive leadership team.
“Membership of our major governance boards is a mix of members from our executive leadership team, senior leaders and external advisors. Including an external perspective in our boards, ensures the right expertise is available and there is a robust approach to decision making.
“For our business transformation we have incorporated independent advice from stakeholders in reference groups to support decision making on transformation. An example of this is the ICT Reference Group - an independent voice and sounding board on our Business Transformation programme.”
Inland Revenue is also working with other agencies to deliver cross agency commitments – such as New Zealand Business Number, IRD numbers for newborns and simplifying the tax process for new migrants with Immigration NZ.
Connecting with Inland Revenue staff on the role of technology is essential to our team.
“Our successful relationships with leadership teams across the business, means that we are able to provide more tailored services and respond quickly to business needs,” says Baird.
People throughout Inland Revenue are interested and engaged with what’s happening in the IT space, and enterprise-wide blog’s on the future of Internet Explorer, cybersecurity and upcoming IT initiatives proved incredibly popular.
They also run an Early Adopters Programme, so interested staff can try the latest technology and devices before the rest of the organisation.
“Our most effective way to share our story and engage people in the role of technology are our regular site visits.
“We have a schedule of visits to all of our sites around New Zealand to meet with both leadership and staff on our upcoming plans, and hear their thoughts and feedback.
“We’ve also just launched the ‘Experience IT’ programme. It is designed to connect people with IT - making it easy for anyone to get the tools they need to be successful, and the knowledge on how to use them.”
At monthly IT Town Hall meetings, speakers from around the business share their views on how Inland Revenue can work together and what the organisation’s key priorities are.
Baird oversees an increasingly diverse workforce and cultural competence is becoming significantly important in leading the ICT team. They are part of a group that introduced an all-of-government graduate programme this year, so that new ideas and innovation can be introduced through the hiring of ‘digital natives’.
“Our development programmes are integrated and linked to a competency framework that we introduced (SFIA – Skills Framework for the Information Age), to which 85 per cent of people across the ICT department completed a self-assessment that was validated by independent external experts.
“In the past 12 months we have also introduced a ‘Women in IT’ group, which is championing for greater numbers of women to join and be part of the ICT team.
A number of key initiatives are currently underway he says, including a Network Connections Plan that connects Inland Revenue female staff (who express an interest) to ICT contacts and a mentor programme.