HMRC’s chief digital officer to leave

HMRC’s digital transformation plans have taken a blow after Mark Dearnley, its chief digital officer, revealed he would be leaving the tax authority next month once his existing contract expires.

Dearnley, who joined HMRC in 2013, was responsible for the department’s digital transformation programme – including the move to digital tax accounts – and handling the transition from its £800m a year Aspire IT contract.

His departure comes a month after the Public Accounts Committee warned that replacing the Aspire contract, and moving to a new model of IT provision “remains a substantial undertaking which will require firm and consistent leadership”.

“HMRC must ensure continuity in the leadership of the Aspire programme to maximise its ability to design and introduce a new IT model successfully,” the PAC noted.

In March, HMRC reached a final agreement with its major IT suppliers on the phased exit of the Aspire IT contract – one of the UK’s biggest single public sector tech contracts – which ends in 2017.

Mike Potter, director of digital transformation, will take over from Dearnley on an interim basis until a successor is found. Dearnley returns to the private sector.

Jon Thompson, HMRC’s chief executive, said, “Mark brought incredible energy, enthusiasm and commitment to his role, delivering everything asked of him at impressive pace.”

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