Phil Pavitt, CIO of Transport for London is moving to HMRC, the two public sector bodies have confirmed. Pavitt has been an instrumental CIO at Transport for London (TfL), reducing spending, vendor numbers and re-motivating the IT team. He faces a challenging task at HMRC, which is bruised from the loss of CDs containing the personal details of 25 million British people.

HMRC is one of the biggest IT divisions in Europe with 103,000 screens serving 90,000 employees. Since the Chancellor Alistair Darling announced to the House of Commons in October 2008 that a pair of CDs containing 25 million individual records had been lost, the department has been under close scrutiny. The Poynter review following the debacle was scathing about the poor information management and IT security in place at HMRC.

Pavitt has been CIO at TfL since 2007, his first public sector role after taking semi-retirement at the end of his career as Centrica CIO. On arrival at TfL he found the technology was good, but poorly integrated. His greatest challenge was re-motivating an IT team that could not make decisions.

Moving to HMRC is a fitting move for a CIO who started his career as debt collector for BT. His management style and strategy is purely focused on the customer and delivering an improved service to them. A customer centric approach is exactly what HMRC requires to rebuild its reputation. "Customer-centricity answers most questions posed," he told CIO UK. Pavitt starts at HMRC in September and TfL say he will remain with them until the autumn.
A spokesperson for HMRC said, "The needs of customers, particularly businesses, will be a key focus of the reform agenda". Pavitt will be responsible for a budget of over £1bn, HMRC said, and 1,400 staff. As a member of the Executive Committee he will deliver a "transformation" of IT over the next two years.

HMRC has a stated aim of reducing its infrastructure running costs by 10 per cent by 2011, including its Aspire outsourcing program with Capgemini. The Comprehensive Spending Review stated that HMRC had to reduce its annual operating costs by five per cent per annum between 2007 and 2011. Between 2006 and 2007 HMRC spent £81 million on IT consultancy, down from £106m in 2005 to 2006. At TfL Pavitt drastically reduced the number of consultants it used, telling CIO UK that consultants are not customer focused.

At TfL Pavitt renegotiated and reduced the number of contracts it had with vendors; one vendor had 11 separate enterprise deals with TfL. He criticized government IT as "going through fashions faster than anyone."

The Poynter review and an Independent Police Complaints Commission review into HMRC following the data loss found that information management security was not a management priority and that data handling methods were "woefully inadequate".

Earlier this year it was revealed that the new Pay As You Earn (PAYE) systems at HMRC were so far behind delivery schedule that the organisation had returned to manual processing as well as reported problems with the tax credit systems developed by EDS.