Anyone who has met Phil Pavitt, the CIO of Transport for London, who was today announced as the new CIO at HMRC will know that he can be forthright and prickly. But that is exactly why he is the right man for the job at HMRC.
The tax man's Whitehall department has been in disarray for some time. Alistair Darling (another man changing job?) had to reveal just how bad things were in 2008 when he told the House of Commons that two CDs containing the personal details of 25 million individuals had gone missing. The mistake, which it seems it was, put the spotlight onto HMRC. Subsequent investigations have revealed "woeful" management and information security processes at the very department where it is most important.
Pavitt cuts to the chase of any issue. He speaks plainly and enjoys a challenge. Throughout his career he has had a driving mantra of customer service, and a taxation department that has been riddled with customer service errors for the last three years is in need of some good customer relations. Vendors will find their contracts combed with increased scrutiny by the ex-Centrica CIO. He unearthed 11 enterprise deals with one vendor at TfL and will no doubt rationalise the relationships HMRC has with the vendors.
Although some of those vendors may not welcome his arrival, the staff at HMRC should be cheered. They've had a bad time recently, and as a user of their online self assessed tax service this year, I can vouch that they are delivering improvements, so with Pavitt known for re-motivating teams and a believer in "empowerment" they should be looking forward to new leadership.
HMRC has been an interesting story to follow, one thing is for sure, it will remain so for at least another year.