Getting to know our APS Data Leaders: Marek Rucinski
In this edition, Marek Rucinski, Deputy Commissioner of Smarter Data, the ATO’s data and analytics capability, shares his career journey and his vision for the future.
It’s an exciting time for data and analytics (D&A). Across the APS, we have so many key D&A initiatives underway, including our APS Data Professional Stream, enabling better data sharing, and the Australian Data Strategy that is now out for public consultation.
I’ve been a D&A professional for over 20 years, first as a D&A practitioner, then ‘downing tools’ to shift to strategic roles. For me this was about combining three areas from the fabric of my experience and training:
- marketing and consumer analysis – this was instrumental in developing analytical approaches that now form part and parcel of data science
- strategy and value focus from post-grad work and consulting engagements
- technology lens and skills honed by working in this space for a couple of decades.
Professionally, for many years, I was a Managing Director at Accenture leading the D&A capability for Australia and New Zealand where I had the opportunity to work on analytical projects across the globe and various industries. My other roles focused on the design and delivery of digital transformation and D&A strategies, helping organisations to deliver business value, and scale and industrialise their D&A capability.
My passion centres on elevating the enterprise role of D&A and the transformational role it plays as we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution.
I joined the ATO in April 2018 because of the singular opportunity to industrialise the large-scale analytics ‘shop’. This was a new and unique challenge on the ‘client’ side. The ATO manages some of Australia’s largest valuable data assets. Ones that are used not just to administer the tax and super systems, but that support the services provided by many other government agencies.
In my current role, I lead the ATO’s data and analytics capability, having strategic responsibility for the development and industrialisation of data, analytics and insights to deliver value for the ATO, supporting its strategic objectives and policy implementation. I also currently chair the APS Data Champions Network, which includes the Data Champions Executive and Forum.
I’m privileged to work in an organisation, like the ATO, with such scale, complexity, and talented people. I’m proud of the D&A work we do, using leading technology and techniques while always ensuring it’s done ethically. For example, we:
- share data with over 20 federal, state and local government agencies, including Single Touch Payroll data with the ABS for its weekly payroll jobs and wages reporting.
- continue to implement bots to automate repetitive business tasks, reducing manual work and allowing staff to focus on tasks requiring human judgement and empathy. Next, we’re looking at ways to apply intelligent automation.
- helped our Tax Avoidance Taskforce ensure multinational enterprises, large public and private businesses (and associated individuals) pay the right amount of tax in Australia. We adopted a hybrid approach to augment a previous business-rule method that identified taxpayers of interest based on certain criteria. The hybrid approach leverages business expertise and machine learning, which provides coverage for a wider range of known and emerging profit shifting risks and improves the case selection outcomes.
- supplemented high-level business rules with advanced analytical models to identify high-risk GST refunds and rank them based on the likelihood and consequence of the risk. Similar machine learning models are deployed to identify fraudulent behaviour. These models result in increased accuracy and improved client experience.
- implemented CbC Interact, a tool that makes unstructured data from country-by-country (CbC) reporting statements discoverable, accessible and usable for staff. This has expanded the data available for analytics and reduced manual effort in analysing the information.
As well as focusing on current priorities, we know it’s critical to continue to evolve the ATO’s D&A capability to meet the increasing demand. We are investing in a comprehensive program of work to:
- strengthen our data foundations to optimise how we acquire, use, manage and share data. This is a foundational ‘thing’ as we need to ensure we can cope with the expansion of our data stores to effectively use them.
- transform the D&A experience though data democracy so all ATO staff, not just our data professionals, can access the data they need to enable them to generate insights and inform decisions. This is about putting data and tools in the hands of our front-line staff, and uplifting data literacy to create an innovative and efficient funnel for this space.
- evolve our use of automation and AI to streamline operations and optimise tax performance and experience. This is an exciting force multiplier space. Automation allows us to multiply the execution scale and speed. AI allows us to multiply the ability to process and pattern analyse vast and multiple data sets jointly.
- build a tax administration that serves the needs of the community and government today and into future.
2022 will be a busy and exciting year for us all, as we continue our D&A journey. A key upcoming ATO event is our D&A Expo in early May. It will include a range of informative and interactive events featuring ATO and industry speakers to engage staff with data and analytics. We’ll be extending an invitation to our APS Data Profession colleagues to come along to events that have a broader APS focus. Stay tuned to find out more.
So, what is my vision for the future? D&A is a part of an organisation’s DNA – part of everyday life, not an adjunct to it. It’s a mission critical function and capability of any modern organisation. We’re all data-driven – using data, information and insights to deliver value for our clients and inform decision making across everything we do.
Something we can all do every day in our own agencies is to consider how D&A can help to unlock better ways to do our work. Think about the work we do, what data is available to us and how D&A can help shape the decisions we make and the approaches we put in place.