Sunday 29 April 2012

HMRC The Sinking Ship - Mike Clasper Resigns

Last Tuesday I wrote the following:
"I was gemused to read an article by Tony Hetherington, in which he lambastes HMRC's executive structure.

One particular issue he raised concerned Mike Clasper (the semi invisible Chairman of HMRC). Hetherington asked HMRC whether anyone represents "ordinary PAYE taxpayers" on HMRC's board.

The answer from HMRC was rather interesting in that, for reasons best known to themselves, HMRC lied.


"Our chairman is also chairman of Which?"
 That's grand, except that Clasper isn't chairman of Which?

Clasper is not even a member of its governing council, instead he chairs an offshoot company ( Which? Limited) that handles the commercial activities of Which?, but not Which? consumer campaigns.

Why did HMRC lie about something that could be (and was) so easily checked and proven to be wrong? "
Fortunately for HMRC it seems that it won't have to lie very much longer about Clasper's other roles.

For why?

He has resigned, although he will probably remain physically in his role until the end of this year.

This is rather ironic that he has resigned, given that I and a loyal reader were only just discussing the fact that one of the major problems that HMRC faces is its lack of continuity of policy/direction:
"Anon: Ken One of the major problems at HMRC is lack of continuity or consistent policy direction at the top. There is nothing wrong in principle with bringing in people from the private sector to provide management expertise but the reality is that the three year contracts under which much of Excom is employed results in inevitable leadership churn. 

For example, I believe the CIO Phil Pavitt's engagement is due to expire in September 2012 and he will probably be leaving HMRC this year. This means that HMRC may have a new CIO right in the middle of one of the most crucial computer projects in its history. I find it difficult to believe that Pavitt's replacement will be able to avoid the temptation to tinker with his predecessors technical strategy and may even want to do things radically different. 

The musical chairs at Board level might be great for for ambitious career free booters keen on lucrative one off gigs that add notches to their CVs but it breeds a corrosive short termist view within the organisation which means long term planning is almost impossible.

Ken: You have hit the nail on the head, in fact the problem wrt continuity is a blight that affects many gov departments (and indeed the private sector) ie:

"Five year projects being run by two your managers".

Specifically a project (eg restructuring or IT implementation) that will take many years to implement and bed in requires consistent high quality leadership.

"High quality" leaders (or rather those who are ambitious) have two year mindsets (always looking for the next step up the ladder).

These people take on projects like this on the explicit understanding that they will be promoted in two years, if they make a "success" of it.

The best way to make a "success" is to change whatever the previous managers did, blame him/her for all cock ups, and implement a 100 days "quick wins" policy etc
What with Homer being new (and not exactly a career "success story" based on her past) Hartnett leaving and Pavitt (as per above) possibly coming the end of his contract this year, this additional departure from the high command leaves very few experienced people on the bridge of the already fatally holed HMRC.

Evidently Clasper has seen the writing on the wall wrt HMRC's future, and wants to move on to more rewarding opportunities. Anyone care to guess which "customer" of HMRC he will join, as is the norm, to act on their behalf when they are negotiating their future tax bills?

It will be interesting to see who replaces Clasper, and indeed whether Clasper leaves HMRC with some form of "golden goodbye".

I wonder who is next to go?

Rats know when ships are sinking.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Looks like President Assad might be looking for some light,part time work soon...........hmmmmm and his wifes British...........

  2. A quick look at the entries in Level Business indicate that Michael Clasper has so many directorships that he doesn't need the HMRC problems in order to survive. So he has no motivation to continue in a "No Win" appointment. However on resigning from his
    present post undoubtedly he will accept a generous, possibly tax
    free "Golden Good-bye" from HMRC so let's watch for this then
    scrutinise his contract of employment if one exists remembering
    that crown servants are employed at the discretion of the crown
    with no enforceable contracts of employment so I'm led to believe!

    1. Yep, "no enforceable contract of employment" sounds about right. Could explain the increasing frequency of staff getting shafted with no comeback.

  3. This was actually announced back in Nov/Dec last year. At that point he had his contract extended to the end on 2012 (the end of the world??). The fact the Daily Torygraph "announced" his move is old news.

    1. Indeed so re his contract ending this year.

      But, as HMRC have stated:

      ‘Mike Clasper's contract is ending and he has decided to move on to other projects. He has delivered first class strategic leadership to HMRC but feels this is the right time to move on."

      The above indicates he could have stayed longer, but that he wants to leave.