HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Security Matters - FAQ

Clueless
Question:

When is a secure email address not secure?

Answer:

When it is assigned to HMRC

My thanks to the loyal readers (see comments below) who highlighted this issue.

Loyal Reader #1

"I spoke to an Inspector the other day and asked for her gsi e-mail address, only to be told that she couldn't correspond by e-mail "for security reasons". As I remember, "gsi" stands for Government Secure Internet. Form your own conclusions. "

Loyal Reader #2

"I have a gsi address also and have been told that because of data security issues I am not allowed to receive external emails from the public.
This is after we were told to reduce the amount that is printed - when I suggested sending it by email I was told it wasn't a secure method of communication - go figure .....
"

Tax does have to be taxing.

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33 comments:

  1. Strange, the VAT side of HMRC regularly correspond by e-mail!

    ReplyDelete
  2. As do Specialist Investigations and the Valuation Office Agency to name but two. Secure for some but not for others apparently. I suspect the real reason is a lack of the appropriate licenses. HMRC are too tight to purchase enough licenses and too useless to know who has the existing ones so they can allocate them to the people who really need them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not true, 11:27.

    Because our back-office HR is now shared with the DWP, nearly all HMRC staff now have external e-mail and internet access (after many had been pushing for it for years).

    The Dept. is right that e-mail isn't a particularly secure way of sending confidential information. I can imagine the fury on this site if someone's info got hacked or leaked.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @ 11.27

    The cynical reason why staff have been given these email addresses is so they can apply for jobs outside HMRC that are advertised on external websites as these websites need an external email address to register.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I accept the confidentiality risk with internet commmunication but as pointed out it is meant to be secure and is used elsewhere. I suspect they actually want to avoid internet communication like the plague because they have such an enormous backlog of post that they simply could not work in real time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. FFS!!!

    an email from a gsi account to another gsi account is secure, an email from a gsi account to a non gsi account isn't.

    Whether HMRC corresponds with external "customers" via email is pretty much down to each different business unit's policy.

    If someone wants to send HMRC potentially sensistive information by a mode of communication akin to putting a postcard in a postbox, they're more than welcome to to.

    However in general, most of HMRC declines to send potentially sensitive information this way.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the Glorious 103rd will have more to worry about than GSi connectivity shortly...
    HMRC has got 3 entries in Private Eye issue No. 1289. (p30 "Sweetheart Tax Deals - Lost interest, lost cause and Between a rock and a Hartnett, and p.33 In the City, last article relates to one Richard Broadbent, due to be next Chairman of Tesco".
    The contents beggar belief I suggest you readers of this enlightening site invest in a copy.
    What is interesting is the amount and level of criticism quoted within.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @18.24

    Possibly a fair point, but if some bits of HMRC think it's OK to correspond by e-mail and other bits don't, doesn't this just show how chaotic the institution is? The front end simply doesn't know what the arse end's doing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The powers that be are oft to quote
    "One HMRC"
    I would put this to the olde footballe chant of:-
    " One H M Arsey, there's only one H M Arsey, One H M Arsey there's only One H M Arrrsey!"
    You are correct in your assumption that there should only be one corporate path to follow (Stalin) but this lot is full of little fiefdoms with power crazy zombies doing there own thing knowing that no-one will bring them to book.
    Wrong, your day cometh ye corporate lickspittles prepare to meet thy doom ye purveyors of tosh and poppycock, Pacesetter is doomed, it had its day some time ago and didn't cut the mustard when needed (Toyota recalls and rebranding to name just one example).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon @ 27 May 2011 15:47...

    ...I smell management.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree.
    Yet another 5th columnist.
    They are not very good at it though!
    Bit like a token priest at a big fat pikey wedding, standing out in the crowd. Probably another snivelling ne'er do well of a brown nosing fast tracker.
    They are only cannon fodder for the SCS but have not got the brains to work it out yet.
    The 103rd is riddled with them, bit like a termite colony when you add in the Pacesetter "bunnies".
    Looking forward to the next "customer centric experience" brought to you by the Muppet Show.
    Tax does not have to be taxing!

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Because our back-office HR is now shared with the DWP, nearly all HMRC staff now have external e-mail and internet access (after many had been pushing for it for years)."

    That is true.

    "The Dept. is right that e-mail isn't a particularly secure way of sending confidential information. I can imagine the fury on this site if someone's info got hacked or leaked."

    That is also true.

    Not sure how 20:53 & 23:29 can decide that makes you management though. In fact the hint of intelligence would indicate the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  13. DWP, HMRC, is there a connection besides shared BOF?
    Both are adrift in a sea of shambles without navigation aids or a chart to plot their way upon.
    The rats have already left or are swarming at the gunwhales in a last minute flurry of panic, and the Pacesetter glitterati? They are busy rearranging deckchairs and requesting the band to play tunes such as the Muppet Show Theme or the Lego Beer Song (google youtube) which is the nearest they can get to a booze-up in a brewery.
    The Meerkats choir would do a better job running a prestigious Government Department than this lot.
    Go buy shares in a mobile phone company, most of them view HMRC as an assett...

    ReplyDelete
  14. 28 May 2011 08:49

    Very true.

    With the Titanic it was "Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
    E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
    Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee"

    But with the 103rd Brigade, its gonna be,

    "But now its getting started
    Why don't you get things started?
    Its time to get things started
    On the most sensantional
    Inspirational
    Celebrational
    Muppet-ational
    This is what we call The Muppet Show"

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ 20:53:

    "...I smell management.

    Wrong. I've never smelled as bad as that.

    @ 23:29:

    "Probably another snivelling ne'er do well of a brown nosing fast tracker."

    Wrong wrong. I wouldn't go into management for a big clock.

    Isn't it funny how some people here are so blinded by hatred that they think any statement of fact (if it disagrees with their own prejudices) must come from a management astroturfer?

    @ 00:21:

    "Not sure how 20:53 & 23:29 can decide that makes you management though. In fact the hint of intelligence would indicate the opposite."

    I'm grateful for the 'hint'! All donations received with thanks! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  16. 00:21 here. Sorry but you hadn't said enough for it to be any more than a hint :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. @ 13.54

    Glad to hear you're not a management stooge! However, can you understand the reasons for so many people's blind hatred for HMRC?

    I overlooked replying to your earlier comment. I left HMRC in March this year and while I had internet access, I did not have gsi external e-mail and neither did most of my colleagues (on an enquiry team) apart from those who had come over from VAT.

    ReplyDelete
  18. 28th @ 13:09
    Abs Fab!
    2 inspirational tunes in their own rights.
    This ongoing debacle needs some humour to keep the interests alive.
    Ken will never run short of items to post especially the way things are going at 103rd Brigade HQ.

    WRT the non-management/manager, you may or may not be a manager or a management grade (O and above) however people are not so much blinded by hatred, they are at their wits ends seeing 2 fairly good Departments reduced to a mess of jabbering protoplasm with amoeba like thought processes.
    HMRC security is a joke in a 2011 environment, its not all about data, until the machines rule, people i.e. human beings are neccesary for HMRC to function. If you want to end up with a taxation system run like a japanese car factory then your "Tax Gap" is going to get bigger and even more "crims" will see HMRC as an easy touch. Buy a mobile phone company, run up an "honest" tax bill in the £Bns, take the top man out to dinner a few times "engaging with customer" and then find you have negotiated a settlement of approx. 50% of the tax bill you owe - then watch what that does for your balance sheet and share values - SEEMPLES!

    ReplyDelete
  19. "However, can you understand the reasons for so many people's blind hatred for HMRC?"

    I can understand people's frustration with the Department. What I don't find acceptable is when people who post on here slander all members of its staff when they are not to blame and can do naff all about it.

    "[T]hey are at their wits ends seeing 2 fairly good Departments reduced to a mess of jabbering protoplasm with amoeba like thought processes."

    How do you think we feel about it? We're the ones sitting in it. As the sewage rises, we see the same bunch of Cnuts alternating between thuggish disregard (Lamey's off-hand comments suggesting that if you don't put the 'right' answers on the Staff Survey, your office will be closed) and attempts at 'concern' which are about as convincing as a speak-your-weight machine trying to pass itself off as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    And there really is nothing we can do short of resignation (in either sense of the word). Which will simply give the Strathies and Hartnetts the staff reductions they want to kiss the Golden Ring Of Gauke.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If a taxpayer chooses to correspond with HMRC by sending an email then that is their choice. However, it's a different story if HMRC sends an email to a taxpayer. Email sent TO a non-GSI account is not secure. Plus if HMRC sent the email to an incorrect email address then there is a breach of Data Security, which leads to senior management flapping and looking for a scapegoat, and another article in The Daily Fail.

    Email is the easiest, most cost effective and timeous mode of correspondence, but I'd rather send a printed letter to a punter than risk Conduct & Discipline procedures in the current climate, by sending something to a Hotmail account and potentially into the ether.....

    ReplyDelete
  21. Not everyone who appears to be a well informed supportive outsider is so, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter if you are a dungheap dweller or an unhappy non-engaged customer, HMRCISHITE.
    The vast majority of posters on this site fall into either category it is but a small majority of lickspittles, recognisable without fail every time, who tend to bring most offence.
    Those who use profanity are at worst merely using it to describe things as they are. On the odd occasion they are used to upset the management stooges and Pacesetter evangelists.
    Feck the lot of them!

    ReplyDelete
  22. "2 fairly good Departments reduced to a mess of jabbering protoplasm"

    TWO fairly good departments?! TWO?!

    Or was it one that was always regarded extremely highly by ministers (HMC&E) and one that was very poorly rated (IR). Whatever the former, alas its all shit now

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ 13.38

    My blind hatred of HMRC comes from having worked for them (IR 1984-2005, then the current mess) for 27 years. I appreciate that some members of the clerical staff are still trying to do a decent job but most of the properly trained ones seem to have left and have been replaced by people who, through no fault of their own, are simply not equipped to to do the job.
    As far as the shared back office facilities with DWP are concerned, do we se a common thread here? Step forward, Lesley Strathie, Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and (presumably) soon to be Baroness Strathie of the County of Shite.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Although I do not hate HMRC I am fed up with dealing with them. My tax affairs have always been straight forward and yet every time I have to deal with HMRC things always become a problem.

    It is clear that the systems they use do not function correctly and for some reason the staff seem to try and cover this fact up.

    ReplyDelete
  25. @00.03"
    TWO fairly good departments?! TWO?!

    Or was it one that was always regarded extremely highly by ministers (HMC&E) and one that was very poorly rated (IR). Whatever the former, alas its all shit now"

    Yep, Customs was very highly regarded. Unless it was by the Judicial enquiries they lied to.( Lord Butterfield, as I recall -informant -what informant..)

    Or the people whos vehicles they illegally seized, based on no law, but on an officers whim.

    Or the victims of their " elite" investigators, more reminiscent of a 1970s regional crime squad, corrupt,thuggish,and in love with their own publicity.

    Highly regarded. I don't think so. Feared -possibly. But then so were the Gestapo.

    ReplyDelete
  26. One of the current problems are the real "untouchables", the ex. "elite" (my ar$e)nis "investigators", some of whom have retired, but some have got themselves embedded in a particular Directorate where cover-ups are more frequent than on a nudist beach when its raining hard!
    HMRC is like FIFA (rotten to the core - Daily mail)

    ReplyDelete
  27. One of the current problems are the real "untouchables", the ex. "elite" (my ar$e)nis "investigators", some of whom have retired, but some have got themselves embedded in a particular Directorate where cover-ups are more frequent than on a nudist beach when its raining hard!

    Can you explain, with specifics exactly what sort of cover ups you are referring to? Otherwise you just look like a fool ranting

    ReplyDelete
  28. Or was it one that was always regarded extremely highly by ministers (HMC&E) and one that was very poorly rated (IR).

    Obviously an ex Customs employee.
    Actually, and you must forgive me for not genuflecting in your presence, the old IR was an extremely efficient and effective Department (apart from a blip in the 1980's when it almost brought the Governent to its knees by bringing out Income Tax Collectors on strike - when we had an effective Union, the IRSF). Tony Christopher would have had the current shabolic lot sorted.

    Speaking personally, I haven't come across a good ex C&E employee - they all seem to be full of their own importance and think they are something special.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anon @20:10

    That's absolutely right. The merger wasn't a merger - it was a takeover by C&E who thought that - because some of them got to dress up for the job - they could lord it over the ex-IR staff.

    They've been there ever since, strutting about as if they're God's Chosen Own. The old IR worked and worked well. The importation of the self-regarding, arse-guarding attitudes of Customs & Circumcise is what has screwed things up the most - that and imported management consultants.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The cover-ups that have been brought to light e.g. Butterfield, The Butler Inquiry et.al. combined with some "educated" reading between the lines of more than a couple of HMIC reports (see HMIC website) serve to illustrate the depths to which HMC&E and latterly HMRC sank.

    However when the reality and full truth of how big the Tax gap actually is i.e. not just as a result of VAT & Excise Duties lining the pockets of business and organised crime but also the massive amounts of Corporation Tax, SA and the rest of the big freebie the public may well call for an enquiry and a few heads.

    So whilst you lot continue your in-fighting, finger pointing and name calling your managers are wetting themselves at your stupidity.

    Get a life, both "sides" were just as bad as each other but in different ways. A bad manager is a bad manager no matter the background. The whole mess requires a clear out with an urgent requirement for a good leader and a capable team of real managers able to listen and act. Add a good measure of old fashioned trouble shooting and a dose of innovation with a complete clear out of the useless and failed Pacesetter initiative and jettison of crap middle managers and you might just get the thing back on track.

    The staff whilst totally demotivated (save for the Pacesetter blinded) would still like to see a proper, efficient and respected Civil Service Department. And just to give a clean sweep drop the HM prefix call it UK Taxation.

    Tax does not have to be taxing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please stop this pi$$ing contest. It sounds so stupid that ehrther you are ex customs or ex revenue. Today, such arguments are like two fleas arguing about who owns the rabid dog! Stop it and focus on the current problem.

    All staff and taxpayers are effected by the car crash that is HMRC.

    Upthread, a poster has mentioned the new Customer Centric Business Strategy. This will be the vehicle to deliver "Efficiency" and will also be a metric that will be used to evaluate staff. The next people survey is 5 months away. We are over 20% into the five year plan and engagement hasn't hut the floor yet.

    If you are a taxpaying "customer" or long suffering staffer.... Be afraid, be very afraid. You can not deliver the spending review commitments when you are suicidal.

    You don't know what's coming. Have you seen any action locally that encourages you to think the department will improve?

    ReplyDelete
  32. re 30 May 16.06 and 20.02.

    Many contributers to this site refer to cover ups and malpractice within HMRC. Private Eye actually makes very damning claims with seemingly a a lot of confidence behind them. However NOTHING happens. It is as if no one cares.
    I simply do not understand why?

    Take the issue with Hartnett. I do not know whether or not he has failed to maximise tax take from the Corporations referred to. It certainly seems to be something that warrants investigation which should involve little more than talking to the Inspectors who he is alleged to have "pushed aside".
    Notwithstanding this though it is the apparent impunity with which he and those that should "manage" him seem to look on his wining and dining with "customers". Surely this should be absolutely forbidden? It cannnot serve any purpose other than to create the climate for suspicion. Why on earth has Cameron, Gershon or A N other not told him to stop? why are HMRC management seemingly untouchable?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hmm, do you people communicate with your bank via your personal yahoo e-mail address?

    No? REALLY??? THEY DON'T OFFER IT TO CUSTOMERS! WHY THE HELL NOT!!!!!!

    *Facepalm*

    ReplyDelete