Revenue contractors will have to work together

The Inland Revenue’s £450m a year outsourcing deals, currently held by EDSand Accenture, are up for renewal, and Inland Revenue deputy chairman TimFlesher said whoever wins, they will not be able to provide everything thetaxman needs.

‘Ten years ago we made the assumption that our partner would supply all ourneeds. The world is very different now. No single partner can provide allthe skills needed over the next ten years,’ he told delegates at the MicrosoftGovernment Leaders’ Conference in Seattle.

‘One critical test for the companies that want to be our partner is theyhave to show how well they work with others and if they say they can supplyall we need I won’t believe them.

‘The kind of partnership that we will need will be different. Increasinglywe will need a whole range of partners to deliver our business. The InlandRevenue will have the broadest customer base of any organisation in the UK.We will need to work through intermediaries in order to deliver ourobjectives successfully.’

Flesher said senior level ownership is a catalyst for getting problemstackled. Twice a year the EDS and Inland Revenue chairmen meet, and thistends to help focus executives on getting problems sorted out. ‘Toooften senior people don’t see it as their business to make sure partnershipswork but they need to get involved,’ he said.

Flesher said organisations have to move fast if personalities are spoilingan outsourcing project: ‘If something isn’t working people have to bechanged and the public sector isn’t as good at that as the private sectorand early action is always needed.’

But he also said managing staff expectations of technology is a big issue.

‘As the dependency of the staff on IT has grown so have their expectationsfor the service. Even the level of availability we are able to achieve – 99% is not enough for some. Managing that is a huge task for us,’ he said.

As a result, even projects that are successful from a technical point ofview can cause problems, he said: ‘In 1999 we rolled out a major NT upgradeto 60,000 desktops. On one level it was a great success, on time and tobudget, but it was also the biggest single cause of anger for staff because it got in the way of them being able to deliver their targets.’

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