Many of the issues that compromised ABR data integrity as highlighted in previous surveys are already being addressed through the current Towards a Better Business Future (TBBF) and Reducing Business Costs (RBC) Government Budget programs.
The TBBF initiative is a four year program that aims to improve the accuracy, integrity and usability of the data in the Register. As part of this initiative we have been enhancing the integrity of the Register by encouraging businesses to ensure their information is accurate and up to date, and by removing entities that are not entitled to hold an ABN.
Over the past year, large-scale compliance work involved a review of the entitlement or the accuracy of details of over 843,000 ABN holders, resulting in the cancellation of 378,986 ABNs and over 415,000 ABN holders being contacted requesting them to review and update their details.
In May 2014 we started cancelling the ABNs of companies that have been deregistered by ASIC, starting with a backlog of deregistered corporations dating back to 2000.
An increase in cancellations of superannuation fund ABNs reflects a bulk cancellation in August 2013 of 8402 self-managed super funds that appeared inactive and where the trustees had indicated their intention to wind up the fund.
In December 2013, as part of the TBBF initiative, we implemented a new online registration process for ABNs that is easier to use and captures more accurate information.
There have been a range of other enhancements to the Register over the past 12 months including the addition of geocoded business addresses, the introduction of a new point of contact coder for Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes and collection of more comprehensive details for business associates.
Geocoding of entities on the Register was introduced in December 2013, with ABN applicants being asked to provide addresses for each of their business premises. These are then geocoded by assigning a latitude and longitude to each address. At the same time that geocoding for new registrations was introduced, we progressively applied geocoding to all existing address records on the Register.
Matching techniques allowed us to successfully attach a geocode to 83% of addresses. Geocoding has greatly increased the usability of ABR data for government agencies.
A new point of contact coder was developed and implemented in December 2013. This coder assists ABN applicants to select the correct ANZSIC code when applying for an ABN. Virtually every new ABN is now assigned a valid ANZSIC code. ANZSIC coding applies at the business premises level, so that a business operating at different sites may have multiple ANZSIC codes depending on their business activities at the various locations.
The new registration process also captures details (with proof of identity) of all applicants’ business associates (including directors, company secretary and the top 20 shareholders for unlisted companies, along with trustees and beneficiaries for closely held trusts).