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Senior revenue chiefs visited 10 global IT companies to persuade them to bid for the prestigious contract, but just four responded.
Tim Leger, director of public sector business at IBM Global Services, said the cost of bidding and the structure of the bidding process itself meant it was not worth chasing the contract.
"The procurement process runs over two years. It would require our best people on a highly competitive project where the odds of winning are not above 50:50," said Leger. "There are lots of opportunities out there with higher chances of winning."
Leger said if the Revenue wanted a proper competition for the contract it should have split it and invited separate tenders for business development work and routine business processing.
Les Mara, who is leading the bid by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, dismissed Leger's concerns as "face saving".
"Vendors that decided not to play would say that," he said. Mara dismissed speculation that CGEY had put conditions on its bid. "The Inland Revenue laid out its agenda and we are confident we can deliver," he said.