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.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Revolving Door II

My thanks to a loyal reader who commented about an article in Private Eye wrt Corven Consulting, the SFO and a couple of ex HMRC bods who are directors of the SFO.

"Q. What is the connection here as reported by Private Eye, issue 1296 p.29:-
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Corven Consulting, £500,000, Philippa Williamson SFO CEO, Richard Alderman SFO Director?

A. Williamson and Alderman are both ex. HMRC, Corven are the Pacesetter "Guru" company, £500,000is the amount paid by the SFO to Corven since June 2010.

Is there something behind all this Pacesetter evangelism after all?"

A cursory poke around Corven's website indicates that they are the "go to" place for PaceSetter:

"Since 2005 Corven has been engaged by HMRC where it supported the design and implementation of its PaceSetter programme. Through the development of leadership at all levels and the application of Lean techniques across an organisation of 70,000 staff, HMRC has achieved audited savings to date in excess of £370m per annum. As part of this work, skills have been transferred to over 420 staff that are now trained in individual and team coaching and as Lean practitioners".

Which is "nice".

I wonder how all this started then?

Oddly enough, way back in July 2006, the Telegraph reported that HMRC had awarded consultancy contracts worth £4M (some to Corven) without first putting them out to tender.

The paper noted that Crispin Ellison, a director of Corven, had worked with Sir David Varney, ex chairman of HMRC, when Varney was chairman of MMO2.

"The revelation that a number of firms have been given work outside the tendering process will only heighten concerns that HMRC is not delivering value for money. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the organisation has "uncovered issues with the procurement of consultancy services".

The body's annual report, released a fortnight ago, also refers to the failings. One section refers to "non-adherence to public procurement rules" in relation to the use of consultants and says HMRC is now trying to ensure fully compliant contracts are in place by this autumn.

It also reveals HMRC is reviewing invoices to ensure "future spending on consultancy is made using these contracts".

The report does not identify any of the individual contracts that breached the rules, but documents seen by this newspaper show that in June 2004 Corven Consulting received work worth more than £120,000 without going through competitive tendering.

HMRC admits Corven began work on this assignment even before a contract had been drawn up because of "tight deadlines".

Corven has since won additional HMRC contracts worth £2.8 million, some at the behest of senior members of HMRC's executive committee.

In the past year Corven has provided coaching and support to senior members of the executive committee as well as general support and advice to Sir David Varney. HMRC refused to say whether Sir David, 60, had personally suggested Corven for any of the work.

Prior to joining HMRC, Sir David worked for some of Britain's biggest companies, including British Gas, MMO2 and Shell. Corven lists all three companies as clients on its website. 

Crispin Ellison, a director of Corven responsible for the revenue contract, insisted that the company had won work on the basis of its good reputation in the field. He said he was personally unaware of problems because the awarding of contracts was a matter for HMRC.

"I have no idea why we were chosen for the contract," he said. "We tend to focus on large scale transformations in the public and private sector."

Mr Ellison confirmed that the firm had worked with Sir David while he was chairman of MMO2 but said this collaboration was totally unconnected with any work it was now carrying out for HMRC.

An HMRC spokeswoman said: "Our own internal checks highlighted some issues in connection with the procurement of consultancy services. These issues have now been addressed."

Let's bookmark this and come back to it in due course.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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1 comment:

  1. Amazed no-one's commented yet on this. Could be a slow burner. Some of the high heidyins who post on here must know something about this...bring it on boys!