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.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Dorothy Brown - Building Our Future

My thanks to a loyal reader who forwarded me the following message sent to HMRC staff from Dorothy Brown Interim Chief People Officer (oddly enough in 2013 she was Chief People Officer, why now is she only "Interim"?).

Her message contains one minor glitch, in the second paragraph she doesn't use a capital "F" in the "Building our Future" phrase.

That's definitely off message!
"Personal Tax Operations
Building our Future in PT Operations – the next steps
17 July 2014

Now that the first wave of Building our Future events has taken place in PT Operations I wanted to write and give you an update on what’s happening next with all the feedback you’ve given us.

Building our future, HMRC’s national conversation about the future of our department has been taking place in PT Operations for nearly six weeks now. You’ll remember that because July is the busiest time of the year for our helplines I asked for the roll-out of these events to be brought forward so that as many people as possible were able to attend an event before the end of June. So far we’ve run over 60 sessions for around 7,000 of our people. This is a great achievement and everyone else will have an opportunity to attend an event by the mid-August.

The first thing I want to say is a huge thank you to everyone for bringing such lively enthusiasm, passion and debate to the conversation. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of events and your commitment and dedication to do the best for our customers and your desire to be involved in the way we transform HMRC really shone through.

The feedback from the events has been phenomenal – and a number of similar issues keep coming-up again and again. You are rightly interested in what a move to regional centres will mean, how new digital tools will impact on our work, and about career opportunities, training and communications.

While Building our Future is a going to be an ongoing conversation, I don’t want us to delay in addressing the areas when we can do something now:

Training – has been a big issue at every single event and you’ve told us that there should be a better balance between online learning and face-to-face training when changes are introduced.

I want us to work with you to look at how future learning is managed. As a first step, and in response to your concerns, training to support the introduction of digitised mail will now be delivered face-to-face instead of using e-learning.

IT and security – has been another major talking point and you’ve expressed concerns that our systems aren’t fit for purpose. Our people in Dundee told me about some real issues that were affecting their work. To try and address these problems I have arranged for a team from the Chief Digital and Information Officer’s (CDIO) area to go and spend some time with our front-line staff to see the problems caused by unreliable IT kit.

Office environment – you’ve told us that the condition and cleanliness of your offices often leaves a lot to be desired. In particular colleagues in Manchester expressed real concerns about the maintenance of their building. I have directly approached the Director of Estates and Support Services (ESS) about fixing these problems and I’m pleased to report that a new cleaning programme in Manchester has now been implemented.

These might seem like small issues, but I want you to know that we are committed to addressing immediate issues where we can. We are collating all of the written feedback from your sessions and will analyse this in detail.

The first phase of Building our Future is nearly complete, and a second wave of events will start in October. Many of you have told me that you are still reserving judgement and will be waiting to see what happens next. I want you to know that I will be striving to keep up the momentum and to demonstrate our commitment to this two-way conversation. I’m meeting with my senior leadership team on 11 August to look at more of your feedback and to discuss the next steps. Following this meeting you can expect to see regular communication from us on the progress we are making with Building our Future in PT Operations.


Given that she is now only "Interim", HMRC staff may choose to take what she says with a pinch of salt.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Interesting reading between the lines, why does it take the intervention of the Chief People Officer to attain what staff have been crying out about for years?

    A litany of ignored and sometimes mocked complaints involving security issues, health and safety, the shortcomings of computer based training* and basic IT issues that should have been efficiently dealt with by local management have finally burnt their way through to the top. This blog was warning years ago about "The Emperors New Clothes" with succesive management layers hiding their heads in the sand of behind whiteboards!

    Hopefully the Chief People Officer may look closely at the disgraceful situation whereby grievances or resolving disputes issues are delt with entirely within business silos? This situation has effectively meant for many that the persons being complained about are "judged" by their immediate colleagues from the same area of work. Obviously an area open to potential misuse especially where the evidence gatherer, the decision maker and the appeals manager work to the same overall boss as the person complained about, raises questions including possible "undue influence"?

    Could be one for the interim Chief to discuss with the PAC in an attempt to stop this abuse and improve things?

    Building for 2020, better get the foundations secure before laying on any further mortar and bricks...

  2. I'm so pleased Dorothy has sorted out the cleaning at a Manchester office. Well done Dorothy-Stirling work there. Perhaps she can turn her attention to a large London office by the Thames where toilets are often out of order, ceramic tiles are falling off the walls by the dozen, the windows have not been cleaned in years, three vending machines for 700 staff which often aren't working (great in a 24/7 building) and is NOT fit for pupose seeing as we work for a modern employer. Scandalous.

  3. Hmm, house of customs think me refer to do you?
    Last bastion of a long lost legacy that runs back to the likes of Pepys, muskets and cutlasses.
    Alas no more for along with ye olde Her Majesty's Customs & Excise, gauging officers, watchers, CPM's and those lazy OCX's they have all been dumped in the bin of history.
    The Custom House will end up as nothing more than an expensive development on the Thames while the ghosts of Harpy reminisce and "swing the lamp".
    "Seek and ye shall find"...This current bunch of incumbents would have difficulty finding their wotsits in a darkened WC. Only yourselves to blame, you were down the pan after LCB when you lost the respect of your, peers and the crims!

  4. Dorothy says these may seem small issues. That is because they are, and the big issues raised at these events are being ignored. She can fix some tiles, but she can't even admit there is a problem with the management system. It is a pattern I have seen in Sir Bob Kerslake's blog - make a big fuss about shortcomings in IT (fair enough, but resolution benefits the business) and going into mock-crusading mode, but turning a deaf ear to the major issue which is preoccupying large numbers of staff and driving down morale.

  5. Dorothy Brown is now the PT ops director and has nothing to do with the chief people officer role Ken

    1. That's not what it says on the site

    2. No need to be sarcastic with how you type the response Ken - thought you would have appreciated some news from the 'coalface'

    3. I wasn't being sarcastic

  6. Whether Dorothy is Director PT ops, Interim Chief People Officer (CPO sic.) or Director I/c paperclips & Fairy Liquid, the fact remains things have to get to this level before being addressed!
    Why bother with all those layers of management, should have kept AA & AO with some good O's and got rid of everything in between on this basis.
    Just what are management in hmrc being paid for, obviously not managing..?

  7. The woman is talking utter bollox. The exercise is widely condemned amongst Hmrc staff and still the management hide behind words that lack substance and real meaning. I totally despair, will they ever man up... He'll will freeze over first. Z

  8. From The Wizard of OZ...

    Dorothy "How do you talk if you don't have a brain."
    Scarecrow "Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don't they?"

  9. I think she was promoted in December when Marie Claire Urqhart PT Ops left just before the EC announcement.

  10. Apologies for the above it should read:

    I think she was promoted in December when Marie Claire Urqhart left PT Ops just before the EC announcement.