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, 9 September 2011

Curiouser and Curiouser

My thanks to a loyal reader who posted a comment (see below) about a seemingly innocuous announcement on HMRC's newsboard advising staff to keep sending emails to Dame Lesley Strathie.

Why ask staff to keep sending her emails?

Have staff stopped sending her emails?

Or is this a piece of diversionary chaff, designed to torpedo (or at least cast doubt on) the now well publicised news that Dame Lesley is leaving?

Whatever the internal news management team in HMRC are trying to do here, I can assure you that she is not going to return.


Text of the comment below:

"Well well well,

On the Newsboard this week, "please keep sending e-mails to Lesley Strathie and her team will forward them on to the appropriate people. This will keep an audit trail so Lesley can address any issues upon her return from sick leave"!!!!

I have paraphrased the above and it is the gist of the message from memory.

There is something going on here. 

Why have such a meaningless message on the news board? 

How many staff can this possibly affect? 

Is it a response to Ken's earlier posts about the imminent departure of the pantomime dame?

Very curious indeed.

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  1. Ding dong the ...

  2. It does smack of damage limitation. I have scanned the Community Forum as well as Hotseat questions and this does not look like a response to staff concerns. Let's be honest, who the hell would notice whether Strathie was there or not?

    So why a news board splash? It's very poor attempt at spinning as no one would be able to grasp what the aim was?

    Do staff worry whether about Strathie on "sick leave"? Of course not, this isn't an Apple/Steve Jobs scenario FFS!

    Did anyone lose sleep about e mails to Strathie not being read? Of course not!

    Is HMRC in turmoil? Yes of course, but it has bugger all to do with Strathie's sick leave!

    Madness has gripped the communications department. All they have done is highlight the absence when no one had noticed or cared.

    Oh, should point out the actual message is written in the first person. So are we to believe that Strathie is writing news board messages whilst she us on sick leave? Answer, of course not.

    It's beyond pathetic.

  3. BTW folks, could someone (if possible) send me the exact text of the newsboard article?



  4. I sense the time is near, the rats have left the ship, the deckchairs have been rearranged and the sharks are circling.

    The Muppet Show is about to face the final curtain.

    Run ToTo Run!

  5. Just to add to HMRC's turmoil.
    l see that the government has had to scrap its planned tax evasion measures.
    For more details go to The Telegraph website and click onto TAX.

  6. Is it possible that the 'Head of the Operational Delivery Profession' is an add-on to her current role rather than a brand new full-time job? What if it just involves something like meeting the reps from the other departments once a month? Maybe she really is coming back.

  7. @9.54

    I am not suggesting you are incorrect, but EXCOM have been here before, and not more than 9 months ago.

    Bernadette Kenny, EXCOM Director of Personal Tax, was "on leave" from Septembe/ October to very close to Christmas. Upon her return, she posted on her internal blog about her plans and all the things she was planning for Personal Tax and the challenges ahead. The next day (and I mean literally the very next day) an announcement on the Newsboard about Kenny leaving to pursue outside interests.

    Now, I understand she had to go because of the fiasco over PAYE reconciliation, but I think it illustrates the nodus operandi.

    What Ken is suggesting is that DLS may not be long for EXCOM. And that OPD could be "upgraded" to explain her departure. I see nothing wrong in that line of thought, but obviously time will tell.

    I ask you all to ponder the following

    1. DLS departed on her sickie a mere two weeks after a less than fulsome Select Committee report. Coincidence?

    2. DLS will return (well that's the official line anyway), after the 2011 People Survey begins on the 16 September. What happens if the results are as grim as last year?

    3. To understand how Gus O'Donnell and David Gauke are looking at this, read the capability review findings on HMRC published in December 2009. The critical factors for HMRC were poor leadership, poor attendance, low morale and poor communication with change management issues. Those benchmarks remain today, and would you consider DLS to have improved since 2009 by enough to keep her in situ?

  8. Well Ken, You asked so here it is


    "As I explained my message (sic)to you on 19 July, whilst I am out of the office, Mike Clasper, HMRCs non-executive chairman, will provide leadership and direction to the Department on my behalf as Chief Executive. Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax, has taken on the role of Principal Accounting Officer (PAO) on an interim basis, and will be accountable for the Department's performance ad the money we collect and spend.

    although the work is being managed differently for a while, emails should continue to be directed to me, and my Office will either action, or re-allocate to dave Hartnett or Mike Clasper accordingly. This is important for ensuring there is a clear handover and audit trail for my return.

    I very much look forward to being back with you all in the autumn."

    Finished with a flourish of a photocopied signature of DLS.

  9. Another "coincidence" to bear in mind. LS on sick leave and this from a comment last month. And people still believe this is business as usual? Incredible.

    Also begs the question, who in LS's "office" is looking at emails? Could it be they have bugger all else to do and so a plea to send emails? Maybe the G6 & G7 mentioned below are underworked which then begs the question, why replace them?

    "To add to the mix they are recruiting a new Head of Chief Executives Private Office (G6) and Private Secretary to the Chief Executive (G7) - both posts are currently filled by staff who came across from DWP when DLS got the job. So why are they advertising the posts again? Could it be that all three are transferring?"

  10. How did I miss this!

    The rowing back from the pi$$ poor introduction od LEAN continues apace

    " Continous improvement - 'lean' is no longer the lingo to use

    You may be interested to hear the 'lean' is no longer the official way of labling staff-led improvement programmes. Instead, Kate Silver of the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group explained that the term is now 'continous improvement.'"

    And from only two months ago as well :)

    It's from here if you want to read it in the original context. Seems like the reporter was surprised as well.

  11. Re Anon 10.09.11 116.22
    I've been retired from HMRC (IR processing)for over 2 years now, but remember "continous improvement" later to become EFQM (European Foundation For Quality Management) as one of the various ill-fated, resource wasting, initiatives we lived through prior to the worst of them "Lean" being introduced. I also remember an attempt at delayering management, a recent recycled idea from LS, but that didn't work as senior staff ended up with management spans that were too big for them to cope with. Seems like everything comes back into fashion/gets recycled in HMRC if you wait long enough.

  12. Anyone see yesterday's Mail and the article on bonuses for Government departments in 2010, I thought these had been stopped because of the obvious abuse of the system i.e. if the bonuses are so high how come the preformances of the core business is so damningly low?

    DWP = £51m, MOD = £49m

    DWP paid bonuses to 97% of its staff FFS!

    Was it not the MOD responsible for the aircraft carrier debacle, the Nimrods being chopped up on TV?

    What's this got to do with HMRCISHITE? - Well, HMRC appears not to have responded to a Freedom Of Information request and has not supplied details, WHY?

    Bonuses are meant to be a reward for outstanding performance - can we expect a massive rebate covering the time since the merger?
    Of course if you abuse a self assessment system owithin the process of staff reports you end up with a couple of "bonuses";
    Overpromoted, useless managers, and;
    Large bonuses paid when the Business is underperforming - in reality, not the La La Land of HMRC.

    What's the answer?
    Suggest you re-read the last 6 months blogs on Ken's site...

  13. Bonuses

    I had 1 bonus about 15 years ago and it was £150 BEFORE tax !

    Reinventing the wheel

    When I started in 1988 they were in the process of reopening all the offices in London that had previously been closed

    EFQM/Lean/Pacesetter - what connects them all together ?

    They all started in private industry and were abandoned because they didnt work - HMRC starts to use them and WIIL make them work.

    Rant over ....

  14. i think you will find that bonuses are linked to the pay system and are part of your pay rise. this is why such a large percentage receive one. however the reward bonus which is in addition is the figure you should be looking at often paid to the lick arses and excom regardless of achievement.

  15. The last comment is correct. The total amounts of "reward" payments are to the mass of clerical grades who simply comply with any and every direction given to them. There is little scrutiny given to the appraisal process and staff usually know who the people are that will be "recognised" and be deemed suitable for promotion.

    It's quite simply a failure of management. The changes to the personal appraisal process have been brought in to limit the excesses of the officer class in HMRC.

    Although there are big problems in management higher up the chain, you will find the most gripes are about the mismanagement and abuses of power at quite ridiculously low grades.

    This will take extreme measures to remedy, and we are not even started on that journey.

  16. 11:11 @ 9:11

    What pay rise are you referring to?

    No pay rise with a positive rate of inflation is a pay cut!

    Have not had a pay rise for 2 years and it was pretty close to zero for a couple of years prior.

    I'm told if you can add up the hourly collected stats for the daily whiteboard totals correctly you can have the success stick to hold, get it right for a week and you get the box of sweetwrappers from a campus event to make pretty things with.
    Still reckon the Pacesetter "hub" events are like tablet time from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.
    At least it is no longer compulsory for staff to stand during the hub, only for the company song!
    Engagement - my ar@e!

    "Engagement matters because people matter – they are your only competitive edge. It is people, not machines that will make the difference and drive the business."

    "Employee engagement is when the business values the employee and the employee values the business."

    From Dept BIS review on Employee Engagement!

    Seems that HMRC just cannot or will not take this forward and "grow the business!"

  17. Yeah, well, 10 years on from 9-11, just bringing a bit of perspective...

    The difference, 9-11 will never be forgotten...

    And, as Dave Allen used to say, may your God be with you, whoever he is!

    Keep it rolling Ken, whatever next one wonders?

  18. Yeah, well, 10 years on from 9-11, just bringing a bit of perspective...

    The difference, 9-11 will never be forgotten...

    And, as Dave Allen used to say, may your God be with you, whoever he is!

    Keep it rolling Ken, whatever next one wonders?

    Would be nice to see some traditional values put back into the Department by LGD's replacement. That could generate some comment!

  19. 9-11 has fuck all on the death and destruction delivered by uncle sam and the uk pre and after that date.

  20. "9-11 has fuck all on the death and destruction delivered by uncle sam and the uk pre and after that date."

    I am at a loss to see which post you are arguing with?

    Why make a political argument when no one else is? It is simply a statement if fact that today is the anniversary of 9/11. What's your problem with that?

  21. First time post on here so please bare with me. I took redundancy from the dept 16 months ago. From my experience part of the problem regarding bonuses is the often close relationship between local senior managers Grade's HO,SO and above.

    These managers have to work very closely together and I imagine it would be difficult for that manager to mark down a colleague knowing they have to work together for the foreseeable future. I have seen this in operation at a local level and managers will often be friends socially.

    Perhaps the answer to constant "good" markings is for the reviewing manager to be distanced from the manager being reviewed.

    Another source of frustration is the inability of any govt to effectively dismiss any failing senior civil servant. As I understood it all non SRS staff if made redundant had a maximum of 15 months redundancy, am I correct in assuming this is not the case for SCS staff?

    Surely if the SCS who run HMRC are failing they should be let go with the same level of compensation that the rest of the staff have to accept.

    Does anybody know of the last time a SCS was dismissed for poor performance?