Leeanne Chau, Assistant Commissioner – Smarter Data, Visual Analytics and Transformation, Australian Taxation Office, Australia

By Yun Xuan Poon

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I am a data and technology executive who has successfully designed and delivered large scale transformation programs resulting in sustained operational efficiencies, capability and technology uplift. I am passionate about the endless opportunities that technology and data provides for innovation, transformation and experience improvements.

At the Australian Taxation Office, we have a real opportunity to improve the taxpayer experience – to make it simpler to comply, and harder not to. One of the ways that we can achieve this is through unlocking our data potential – to transform the client, stakeholder, and staff experience through purpose-led data and analytics solutions.

Data and analytics allows us to engage earlier and be more transparent with clients to help them get things right from the start, and help us to more easily monitor changes in compliance behaviour and focus our efforts on those not doing the right thing.

They support our ability to be flexible, build capability, measure our performance and align our resources in the most efficient and effective way. Governments increasingly need quality, ready-made insights to inform policy, programs, regulation and services.

We play a vital role in providing these given the type and quantity of data we hold. The work we do enables us to better collect and manage data and deliver high-quality data analysis and visualisation to support government and deliver ATO outcomes.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

One of the key initiatives I am leading is the transformation of the data and analytics experience for our staff and clients at the Australian Taxation Office through the democratisation of data.

Its all about putting trusted data in the hands of our users at scale, without the need to be technical experts. This strategic direction has the ability to positively impact every single person across the organisation, by uplifting their data capability and literacy, enabling increased self-service through user friendly tools, as well as the implementation of a trust rating system – to enable users to quickly identify the level of trust associated with the data and insights presented.

We are leveraging concepts that have had viral adoption through the consumerisation of technology – crowdsourcing, gamification, social engineering – to minimise the change impact and change resistance. Change resistance is a big barrier to realising value with data and technology initiatives, so one of our underlying themes is to flip the narrative by making our solutions so appealing that our staff want to adopt our data and analytics offerings, rather than feeling like change is forced upon them.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021? 

This year has been characterised by lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have learnt how productive I can still be undertaking meetings while enjoying the fresh air and going for a walk or a bike ride.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

While truly devastating, the Covid-19 pandemic has also driven some positive influences and forced us to re-think the way we work. A large scale shift to flexible working is one great example.

For me, I will cherish being able to spend every morning with my children before settling in to work at home, rather than having to rush off to work, each day. I also loved being inspired by my peers who have showed their resilience throughout these challenging times, getting to connect with people in different ways.

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

Many people are familiar with reports and dashboards – but not many people can say they have truly integrated dashboard visualisations – to improve the way we see data, with intelligent automation – to improve the way we use data, with better understanding of the data through an integrated data catalogue and lineage tool.

I’m excited about bringing together value through integrated data and analytics offerings and transforming the user experience.

What gets you up in the morning?

The opportunity to make things simpler, better, faster using technology and data and making a positive difference to everyday lives.