‘Reinvention’ the key to recent ATO success: Chris Jordan AO

Chris Jordan AO and David Pembroke

Chris Jordan AO, Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office, and David Pembroke, Founder and CEO, contentgroup.

Chris Jordan AO, Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office, was recently interviewed for the WORK WITH PURPOSE podcast.

When Chris joined as Commissioner in 2013 he sought to challenge the status quo, often asking staff ‘Why do we do that?’ and finding that the reason was either written in an internal practise statement, or was just the way things were done. Attitudes that at odds with the direction sought from the Treasurer and the Treasury Secretary at the time.

‘We came up with this notion of reinvention. In other words, it’s not broken, we just need to reinvent, we need to freshen everything up, we need to open the doors and windows, we need to declutter.

We threw out tens of thousands of pages of instructions and check lists. We stopped doing all sorts of things because they were just being done, because they were always being done.

I really wanted the staff to feel better about their day to day work and not feel bound up in process and checklists, because if they were bound up in process, what do you think they’re going to do to their clients?’

This notion of reinvention, and the need for adaptability, served the ATO well in its support of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

‘We have re-deployed 5,000 people within the ATO to help on these stimulus measures. We have had up to 15,000 people working from home. We brought on 2,000 casuals, to train them up for tax-time, as well as the stimulus measures. This is just inconceivable in the past.’

During the interview Chris was effusive in his praise of the people and the leadership at the ATO who this year have come to grips with both the demands of the major bushfires and a global pandemic.

WORK WITH PURPOSE is produced in partnership between contentgroup and IPAA ACT, with the support of the Australian Public Service Commission.

The podcast can be accessed from the link below and is also available on Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Work with Purpose

Episode #19: Keeping it simple - with Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan AO