As part of our overall transformation, our technology has moved into an environment where we work with a number of partners that provide commercial off-the-shelf and cloud-based services. The benefits of this are that third parties can collaborate with us more easily, our people can access tools and data from any location, data is securely located and accessible in the event of a natural disaster and software is regularly updated.
In October 2021, the final transformation programme release upgraded myIR, the online services our customers use, and moved child support to new systems and processes.
Upgrading myIR gave it a more modern look and feel and made it easier for customers to focus on what's relevant and important. Using myIR is seamless across different devices, including mobile phones. This upgrade shows the benefits of choosing a commercial-off-the-shelf system - it's updated on an ongoing basis and always current.
We finished decommissioning all our heritage systems this year - we switched off the old tax system in December 2021. This ended the co-existence of the old and new systems running in parallel, which was the biggest risk to the tax and social policy system during transformation. Our operational risk profile has reduced significantly as a result.
During the year, our systems continued to handle high loads, coping with automatically issued income tax assessments and online applications for COVID-19 relief support.
We continued to improve our mobile workplace technology, which has been essential during the periods when our people were not in our offices because of COVID-19 restrictions or other interruptions. We put in place virtual desktop interfaces for more than 500 of our voice channel people, so they can respond to customer calls from home. The virtual desktop is secure, and our people are required to keep customer and Inland Revenue information confidential at all times, whether they are working in the office or from home.
Cyber security is being strengthened
Inland Revenue has been improving our cyber security capability significantly, in a programme that began in 2020-21. We have increased our resourcing, delivered security initiatives and partnered with third parties to ensure a managed response to security threats.
We are classified as an investment-intensive agency and have an asset management plan that includes our technology. The Treasury and Audit New Zealand have twice assessed our management of investments and assets and assigned us an 'A' rating, as noted under 'Overall Investor Confidence Rating' on the 'Our finances' page.
We monitor and report on the availability, utilisation, condition and functionality of our key assets. Indicators aim to provide robust information on how our internal and customer-facing operational systems are performing. We met our targets for these indicators this year, although a small number of targets for individual assets were marginally below target.
- The overall availability of contact centre services and our websites were marginally below target due to outages.
- Our utilisation of infrastructure licenses for contact centre services was below target because we purchased licenses for the maximum number of people that might be needed during busy periods.
- Utilisation of devices such as laptops and tablets was below target because we have been purchasing additional devices as part of planned hardware replacement.
Another way we monitor the functionality of our systems is through case studies, which look at their fitness for purpose to deliver what Inland Revenue needs, when we need it. You can read about our quick delivery of COVID-19 Support Payment schemes below.
Key indicators for our systems (unaudited)
- Systems availability
99.9% of servicable hours that systems are available to users against a target of greater than 99.5%. The same as in 2020-21.
- Systems availability - outages
1.9 average number of priority 1 outage incidents per month against a target of less than 2. Up from 1.8 in 2020-21.
- Condition of systems
97.8% average of various asset condition indicators for components of the applications services and ICT infrastructure against a target of greater than 95%. Up from 96.7% in 2020-21.
- Supplier performance
4.85 average monthly score for supplier reporting based on performance by IR commercial against a target of greater than 4. Up from 4.75 in 2020-21.
- Utilisation of infrastructure
91.2% average of various indicators assessing utilisation of our systems against a target of greater than 89%.
In February 2021, the first Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) opened to eligible businesses and organisations. When the RSP was originally designed, we anticipated there could be a need for additional applications. We designed the system so that we could rapidly make RSP payments available when needed - a total of 10 times. There was very little system configuration required to make each subsequent payment available. Applications for the last round of payments closed on 13 January 2022.
Building on our experiences to deliver in 2022
On 21 February 2022, the Government announced a new targeted COVID-19 Support Payment (CSP) for businesses affected by the Omicron outbreak.
We were able to open applications to customers 7 days after it was announced. The design of the CSP was built on our previous experiences with the RSP, as well as earlier COVID-19 support products. We once again leveraged our core system, START, to implement the CSP in a fast and cost-effective way. Re-using existing designs where possible allows us to implement new products such as the CSP and the Cost of Living Payment quickly.
We kept the design as simple as possible so customers could easily understand the criteria, and what steps they needed to take. It also meant that Inland Revenue and our partners could deliver the best possible customer experience.
Our systems make it easier to deliver quickly
As our modernised systems now have more accurate information, we can use information we already have to speed up processes. For example, our systems can run checks at the time of a transaction, such as when someone applies for support. This means we don't have to write checks and eligibility criteria into legislation. We can instead publish the criteria on our website and update it as required. Legislation is simpler, making it easier for our stakeholders to understand.
Our response to the Government's COVID-19 initiatives has further embedded our approach to design and new ways of working. Networked teams of people from across Inland Revenue and our partner agencies were able to design new products in short timeframes, and in cost-effective ways, to support the Government's priorities.