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HMRC on the hunt for chief digital information officer

HM Revenue & Customs are looking to hire a CDIO to lead the department’s digital agenda, with a potential salary of up to £180,000

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are in the process of recruiting a new chief digital information officer (CDIO) at director general level, following Mark Dearnley’s departure in autumn 2016.

Dearnley left the department and returned to the private sector in September, in the midst of HMRC’s transition away from its £800m-a-year Aspire contract.

The department is now looking for a CDIO to lead its work on making HMRC one of the “most digitally advanced tax administrations anywhere in the world”, offering pay of up to £180,000.  

According to the job advertisement, the CDIO will “shape and transform the way HMRC works – developing the capability to provide better online services to the taxpayer and customer to achieve faster and more effective models of delivery at optimal cost”.

“The role requires the ability to engage and lead people, as well as position HMRC in the cross-government agenda playing a full role across Whitehall and supporting smaller government departments.”

This also includes working with the Government Digital Service (GDS), whose director general Kevin Cunnington will be on the board that interviews potential candidates for the role. 

In 2016, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the success of its Aspire exit relied heavily on senior management remaining in post. Following Dearnley’s departure, Mike Potter took on the role as interim CDIO in August 2016, making him responsible for the department’s digital and data strategies, as well as live IT operations and its IT sourcing strategy. 

“The department is moving from legacy systems and a one supplier approach (under the old Aspire programme) to a cloud and open-source environment, with agile working. With one of the largest and most complex IT estates in the country, the scale and complexity of some of HMRC’s programmes is unrivalled and will make a huge difference not just to the government but ultimately to the UK as a whole,” the job advertisment said

The CDIO group at HMRC is already “transforming itself to become accountable for the delivery of IT services”, according to the candidate information pack.

The new CDIO will be responsible for serving as the department’s lead on government digital strategy initiations, driving its digital tax agenda and leading the Aspire exit.

Read more about HMRC’s tax programme

“HMRC is going through a technical revolution in a time of rapid change that will transform the service it provides to 50 million individuals and five million businesses across the UK,” the candidate information pack said, describing the department’s flagship Making Tax Digital programme.

“By 2020, [HMRC] will be one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations anywhere in the world,” it said.

“The implementation of Maxing Tax Digital is one of the most complex technological projects ever undertaken by government consolidating hundreds of tax applications, simplifying some, digesting all and providing easy access through the tax account.”

The digital tax programme has recently faced scrutiny by the House of Commons’s Treasury Committee, which earlier this year called on the department to delay the implementation of the project.

The committee stated that the departments plans to mandate the use of digital tax records of businesses by April 2018 does not provide enough time for “such a fundamental change”.

It also called for a need to pilot the new digital tax system and processes before beginning full implementation.

More recently, the department has also been criticised for its approach to the IR35 regulations, which came into force yesterday,  with public sector stakeholders claiming the late release of HMRC’s online tax status assessment tool and its supporting IR35 legislation is causing contractors to leave their projects.

HMRC is also known to have lost a number of IT contractors since the organisation began notifying its off-payroll staff that, from 20 March 2017, their engagements qualified a number of them to pay the same tax as permanent employees. 

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