HMRC to bring services under direct control in IT shake-up

HM REVENUE & CUSTOMS will bring some existing IT services under its direct control as it plans the transition to a new IT delivery model following the ending of the Aspire contract in 2017.

It is hoped the changes will enable HMRC to make savings of around 24% on its £800m annual IT budget by 2020/21 while maintaining consistent delivery of services to customers.

HMRC also announced that Capgemini would deliver ‘test and release’ services until 2020, to provide “vital quality assurance” during the switch.

The changeover in the IT contract has proven controversial in recent times, with the Public Accounts Committee warning in the last parliament that HMRC’s approach to computing could leave its systems in “havoc” as it seeks to replace its Apsire system by 2017. HMRC rejected that assessment at the time, stating it was “making significant progress in preparing for a smooth and effective transition” from Aspire.

Alongside the move, the tax authority has also confirmed details of its planned adoption of cloud computing for its tax systems. The tax platform – in concert with the increased cloud adoption – will allow the department to expand on digital services such as the online self-assessment online.

It is expected the platform will also allow the department to easily build and deploy web-based applications, and alter the way in which integral systems – such as the calculation of taxpayers’ liabilities – are managed.

HMRC chief digital and information officer Mark Dearnley said: “We have an ambitious digital vision – to transform our IT services and use the data we hold in smarter ways, so we can deliver world-beating digital services for our customers and colleagues.

“The changes we’re announcing today will allow us to maintain consistency of service for customers while we plan for the future which, as now, will include a mixed model of both internal and external delivery using multiple partners.”

Earlier this year, it emerged an outsourced IT company engaged by HMRC to provide additional capacity to tackle tax credits fraud and error fell £284.5m short of its savings target due to an IT failure that menat its 600 staff could not work for three months.

Synnex-Concentrix UK was hired on a payments-by-results basis with the aim of increasing the number of compliance interventions. So far, the benefits of the contract have been “lower than anticipated”, according to an assessment by the National Audit Office.


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