HMRC indicates move to Google Apps

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has indicated it will be moving away from Microsoft and towards Google Apps for document sharing and collaboration

HMRC has been trialling the use of Google Apps with the intention of using Google’s tools for collaboration.

The department confirmed it had spent the past six months trying out services from the tech giant, such as Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Google Docs.

This means that some of the department’s documents will be stored in the cloud on Google’s external servers offshore, and makes it one of the biggest government departments to move away from Microsoft.

“HMRC has an ambitious digital future planned. This contract will make it easier for staff to collaborate on internal documents, providing greater flexibility and efficiency, while reducing costs,” said HMRC in a statement.

“Following a successful pilot, we are planning to roll out Google collaboration tools to more people throughout HMRC later this year. We have carefully considered the protection of customer information and this remains our highest priority.”

But the use of cloud could still cause concern among the public as HMRC is responsible for taxpayers' sensitive data, carrying out the collection of £505bn in tax and the delivery of £43bn in benefits every year.

The trial was originally outed through a LinkedIn blog post from Google UK head of public sector sales David Fitton, which has since been removed.

This isn’t the only digital shake-up HMRC is working on, having launched a digital headquarters in Newcastle in 2014 with the aim of experimenting with digital technologies to create new ways of working and thinking.

The department also trialled the government’s Verify identity assurance scheme in January 2015, rolling it out to citizens using online self-assessment to complete their tax returns.

HMRC recently posted a call for help surrounding its migration away from its multibillion-pound Aspire contract in 2017. The department advertised for a “lead transformation partner” to assist with the strategic and cultural issues that will emerge when it migrates away from the £800m per year outsourcing deal.

As collaboration becomes more important for organisations, departments have been increasingly embracing the cloud applications that help them to do this more easily, with the Government Digital Service (GDS) rolling Box out to its employees earlier this month

Read more about HMRC

  • MPs claim HMRC will be unable to move away from Aspire outsourcing contract by 2017 deadline
  • HMRC has taken down 4,000 illegal websites and responded to 75,000 phishing reports in a bid to tackle online fraud

Read more on IT for government and public sector