The ATO is the Australian government’s principal revenue collection agency.

Its role is to manage and shape the tax, excise and superannuation systems that support and fund services for Australians.

In 2017 we were asked to formally assess the ATO’s culture strategy, and to make recommendations for improvement. This study included extensive research and evaluation, a comprehensive report, and presentation of the outcomes to senior leadership and at the ATO SES conference.

Our work contributed significantly to the further improvement of culture at the ATO.

Approach

Since 2013, the ATO has invested significantly in leadership and culture change. We authored the ATO’s leadership strategy in 2014. In the same year, the ATO launched its culture strategy as part of the Reinventing the ATO program.

The leadership had received mixed signals about the ATO’s culture, and in 2017 we were commissioned to formally evaluate the culture strategy and its implementation. We needed to provide clear analysis of data and conduct additional research to determine progress of cultural transformation since 2014. Our final report summarised findings and conclusions, and made recommendations for the future of culture strategy at the ATO.

Using a broad range of qualitative and quantitative data we assessed implementation of the culture strategy and the current state of culture in the ATO. We then conducted eleven structured, two-hour focus groups with staff across sites, classifications and business areas in four states.

We also interviewed seventeen senior leaders, conducted additional research, and evaluated the ATO against prominent theories and approaches of other organisations. Our findings, conclusions and recommendations were then presented in a report. All of this was done in a collaborative manner, interacting effectively with a broad range of dispersed stakeholders at the ATO.

Outcomes

Major outcomes of this project included a clear understanding of the ATO’s culture and the success of its culture strategy, and a clear, pragmatic and implementable pathway for improving culture at the ATO.

Thank you so much for sending this through. Your flexibility and professionalism during the process has been much appreciated.

Danielle Marcovich-Smith
Staff Experience and Culture, ATO

I wanted to thank you again for your work on the review. The team has been feverishly working on a refreshed culture strategy based on your recommendations, which have been tremendously helpful for us as the basis and justification for many of the activities we would like to take forward.

David Miller
Assistant Commissioner, ATO

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