You may recall a while ago that I wrote about a comment on Youtube, alleging that there were security shortcomings relating to the processing work on tax credit forms that had been outsourced by HMRC to Fujitsu in Netherton.
I have been given a little more background information about this.
New Tax Credit forms are processed in Netherton, Merseyside, by the IT services provider - Fujitsu Services.
The process is relatively simple:
-each page of an application is captured and stored using image character recognition
-when the system can't recognise the text, it is sent to a human keyer (for manual input)
I am advised that Fujitsu (as at April 2007) charged HMRC 16p per image/per page. This charge, I understand, will decrease each year that the contract runs.
The NTC form used to be 16 pages long, it has now been reduced to a "mere" 12 pages. Therefore each form, using April 2007 charges, earns Fujitsu £1.92.
Multiply that by the number of forms being submitted, and you have a very nice income stream.
The same system is used to process CIS forms, and possibly will also be used for child benefit.
My contact advises me that manual keyers should be security cleared. However, I am advised that during a busy period anyone who can type at a reasonable rate is employed. This apparent security weakness, if true, needs to be looked into by HMRC.
Has HMRC conducted an internal audit of the process?
If not, why not?
A question also arises over the top heavy organisation chart of Fujitsu, seemingly there are five site managers for a site that contains less than 200 staff.
Is this really necessary?
Have HMRC conducted a cost benefit analysis, comparing outsourcing costs to in house processing, that justifies the outsourcing of this process to a third party?
I wrote to Fujitsu asking for their comments on the draft of the above story, they have not answered. In the event that they do comment, I will post it on this site.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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