Latest Public Sector News

03.08.16

HMRC chief digital officer to leave despite warnings over Aspire

HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) chief digital and information officer has announced that he will step down next month, shortly after a report said that consistent leadership is crucial to the success of a switch in IT systems.

Mark Dearnley was responsible for overseeing the replacement of HMRC’s Aspire IT system with Capgemini, a project that was rated ‘Amber/ red’ by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

He has now announced that he will return to the private sector in September, with Mike Potter, the current director of digital transformation, acting as his interim replacement.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has asked for regular updates on the Aspire transition in a report that raised ongoing concerns about the project.

The PAC’s report said: “We remain concerned that HMRC may struggle to integrate different services from different providers. As we have seen from elsewhere in government, one of the main factors that determines the success of complex programmes such as this is the quality and stability of their leadership.”

The PAC also warned that HMRC is planning to cut its personal tax staff by 34%, despite the fact that a previous effort to cut staff led to waiting times tripling.

Dearnley said that he had fulfilled his remit because during his three years in post HMRC had “successfully concluded negotiations to dismantle the Aspire IT contract, taking more direct control of the design and delivery of our digital technology services”.

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