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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, 2 September 2011
The Revolving Door
Simon MacDowall (HMRC's Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs for the last four years) is leaving at the end of October.
MacDowall (the longest serving communications director in Whitehall) will become a director at Emic Communications, which specialises in internal communications.
MacDowall explained that he is making the move because it ‘feels like the time’.
"You reach a point when you say ‘I think that’s long enough and its time to take these skills to the private sector".’
MacDowall added that the main issues his successor will need to handle include ‘supporting the HMRC Change programme with excellent internal comms, along with effective external comms with customers and stakeholders as HMRC makes improvements to services.’
He leaves after completing an internal review of HMRC’s comms, which was aimed at integrating devolved communications functions and focusing them on helping to achieve HMRC’s strategic objectives.
Stephen Hardwick has been appointed as HMRC’s interim director of communications and corporate affairs, and will start work on 19th September.
Dave Hartnett is quoted on HMRC's intranet as saying:
"I am delighted that Stephen has been appointed to this important role. He brings a wealth of experience and professionalism to the post and I very much look forward to working with him."
HMRC state that Hardwick is a former journalist, industrial relations writer, political adviser, public affairs director and policy and communications consultant.
In fact he spent nearly four years as the political and policy adviser to the former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
I though civil service appointments such as this were meant to be politically impartial?
Oh, and for good measure, he also spent nine years with BAA (the company that runs Heathrow so well).
He is quoted as saying:
"I am thrilled to be joining HMRC at this time of significant internal and external communications challenges.
As a customer with tax queries to resolve, I’ve always been impressed by the helpful professionalism of HMRC’s staff.
But as an objective observer I can see that HMRC is facing some big operational, organisational and reputational issues. So I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues, both in the communications and marketing department and across the organisation, in helping HMRC to tell its story better and to engage openly and constructively with its staff and external stakeholders."
Now here is the rather odd thing, Hardwick is only an interim appointment, for a mere nine months in fact. During this time a "a fair and open recruitment will take place to identify a permanent successor for the role".
Now I am clearly being rather slow witted here, but why (if Hardwick is so good) does HMRC only give Hardwick the job for nine months?
Is it because Hardwick only wants to fill time for nine months before moving on?
I see that he is currently a busy chap working for Altitude Consultancy:
"We are different
We are not a conventional Westminster political consultancy. We recognise that times have changed: communications methods have evolved and clients demand more responsiveness, transparency and value for money."
I assume he will leave Altitude, otherwise he would never have the time to fulfil two roles. That still of course does not answer why he is only an "interim" appointment?
Will he be paid the "normal rate" for the job, or will he be paid at "consultancy rates" (ie very expensive)?
Is his temporary nature because HMRC don't think that he is very good?
Either way, why not simply hire someone capable who is prepared to stay for more than nine months?
The method chosen by HMRC means that there will be additional costs to the taxpayer.
Call me a cynic, but do you not see something of a revolving door here?
One HMRC senior bod leaves to join the private sector, and vice versa....all very incestuous and not very healthy to my humble view!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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