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CIO Profile: HMRC's Mark Hall on IT rationalisation
CIO Profile: HMRC's Mark Hall on making tax collecting more responsive

The amount and scope of change, largely led by IT, at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is such that the Whitehall department has in effect two IT leaders: one for the day-to-day IT operations and another for changing the organisation and its IT.

Mark Hall is HMRC’s director of IT Services and also deputy CIO. Phil Pavitt, formerly CIO at Transport for London and Centrica, is the organisation’s Director General of Change and its CIO. While Hall does report directly to the straight-talking Pavitt, he says that the Director of Change half of the job fills most of Pavitt’s time.

“Phil has been a driving force in making change a reality,” Hall says of his boss. “He has galvanised the IT community and the business at HMRC.

“Customers are changing and are more IT-led, and we are trying to get ahead of that. Our architects had the right ideas; Phil has gone and got the business buy-in and the business managers talking about change.”

The changes taking shape at HMRC are root and branch, affecting every process the organisation is involved in and especially how IT touches them.

Broad experience
Hall’s broad remit covers the IMS department, Live Services for applications and infrastructure, IT business alignment and development, architecture, project management teams, financial planning for IT, IT contracts management, IT solutions for requirements and build, internal transformation of IT and the management of the 1100 staff in IT, many of whom, he explains, are professional civil servants and not pure IT staff.

“The level of business knowledge they have surpasses every organisation I have been with before. Many have been tax ­inspectors,” he says of his IT team, which is reducing in size.

As the government’s highest spending department and also its primary revenue source, HMRC has been set three stiff challenges in the latest government spending review.

It has to maximise revenue flows so that people are paying the right amount of tax, reduce its cost base by 25 per cent and improve the customer experience.

“The way to achieve those outcomes is through a customer segmentation strategy that will change the way we approach our processes,” says Hall.

This new strategy follows hard on the heels of a series of major changes that HMRC has undergone, whose ramifications are still working their way through the department.

“The merger of Revenue and Customs was very significant, involving two IT systems, two organisations, two different supplier contracts,” he says of the 2005 ­departmental merger.

The reorganisation followed the re­negotiation of the Aspire outsourcing contract a year earlier, with Capgemini winning the deal that also calls on Fujitsu, Accenture and BT to deliver areas of technology support to HMRC.

As with all mergers the process of integrate, improve, deliver and optimise had to be followed and Hall is confident that HMRC is now at the optimise phase.