Phil Pavitt, former CIO of HMRC, has put his head above the parapet and claimed that many government departments (including HMRC) are likely to fail in their quest to be truly digital because they are still reliant on legacy systems.
Pavitt, now CIO of Specsavers, was speaking at Nimbus Ninety's Ignite conference.
He is quoted by Computing:
"Where the UK government has played it wrong in many of its departments, is that it has pimped out its front-end, but it has not changed its legacy engines - that is not truly digital.Interesting, if you read carefully what he says, he is basically saying that despite working for government for so many years he was not able to influence the incorrect mindset of the government.
That will fundamentally catch them out as it has caught out many companies in the UK and Europe already.
People think digital is having an app - that's why people are getting it wrong and I know because I've worked for government for so many years, and for so many years they thought that the app was the front bit, but actually it's the whole experience."
A sad legacy indeed!
Pavitt then went on to talk specifically about HMRC:
"It's one of the largest government bodies that's online anywhere in the world, but you try to do your taxes online - it's not the easiest thing is it?"Adding that failure was a key part of any digital strategy - something he emphasised in his first presentation at HMRC:
"I said ‘we are going to make so many mistakes it is going to be painful, we are going to be on a Daily Mail front headline and indeed we were several times."Warming to his theme he then had a well deserved pop at consultants:
"The consultants that sell that to you are lying to you, they are selling their goods. It's about the ease of the user, and the subtlety is small but significant.
Most organisations say that you have to spend a whole pile of money to do this, and I've personally never had that experience; I believe it's a fundamental lie from the IT supplier industry in that space.
Digital is something that has to come from the legacy engine to the very front end and if your digital stack doesn't do that or you're told you can only do it with a huge investment, that's not true."
In a nut shell:
- HMRC has wasted a large amount of money
- HMRC will fail, because its legacy systems are crap
- Pavitt was ignored when he worked for HMRC
Hindsight is wonderful when you have left for the private sector!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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