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.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


The Guardian reports that the government is paying up to 10 times more for IT projects than the standard commercial rate.

The public administration select committee (PASC) found ministers were "overly reliant" on a few large suppliers, resulting in the waste of an "obscene amount of public money".

Is HMRC being ripped off?

Well, judge for yourselves:

"The Aspire contract between HMRC and Capgemini covers a 13 year period and was originally valued at £2.8 billion.[49] This contract is a case study of what is wrong with the present procurement culture. Such a large contract is too complex to manage. The assessment of costs and benefits is opaque and it commits too much power and money to a single supplier."

Source Government and IT- "A Recipe For Rip-Offs": Time For A New Approach

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  1. Roll on RTI and DWP's Universal Credit. Ken you'll need to post 3 times a day to keep up with it all when it finally kicks off

  2. The IT contract has so many hidden costs it would make an MOD contract for an aircraft carrier look watertight by comparison.
    The question of the IT contract is not new by any stretch of the imagination having been commented upon in this site, Private Eye, mainstream media
    Has no one worked out that you need career civil servants of quality to manage efficiently.

  3. @ 28 July 2011 17:32

    From reading the comments on this story elsewhere it seems that most people seem to think that what you need is more private sector involvement. Outsource the procurement role because outsourcing works so well :)

  4. There is no problem with outsourcing but the people doing the outsourcing need to have a very good idea of what the end result should be and what it should cost.

    The trouble is that the current mob have no idea of what they are trying to achieve and are quite happy to pay way over the odds for it. Even if it does not work.

  5. I can tell you for a fact (from my own experience) that having quality developers is not enough. I agree with 17.32 completely. We need quality civil servants who "know" what the result is supposed to look like. Developers only build what they are told to - theyre basically flying in the dark as most of them know sod all about tax and so have zero idea about what the system is trying to achieve - not their fault I may add, it's just not their speciality so the brief needs to be water fucking (!) tight.

  6. Very recent interview with Phil Pavitt (HMRC's CIO):


  8. IT supplier - "So what do you want?"
    103rd " A nice new vdu for everyone and throw those hard drive old base units out when you replace the vdu's please"
    IT, some time later "There you are 30,000 new sparkling fairly slim and almost modern vdu's as per contract"
    103rd "They don't work, where's the f'ing hard drive base units?!"
    "You asked us to get rid of them when we replaced the vdu's, its all in the contract you signed!"
    103rd "No, you are supposed to have replaced the base units as part of the contract, its no good having a vdu without a hard drive base unit, its useless."
    IT "Couldn't agree more chum, but the contract only says replace vdu's and remove old base units and that's what we have done, sorry, you did understand the contract didn't you, we are charging £1,000 per unit you know!"
    103rd "WTF! Who signed that contract FFS!"
    Now, we all know that wasn't the case, don't we?

  9. More speak your weight idiocy from our friends in Parliament and the media

    It sounds like like a great idea to replace the large IT suppliers with many smaller cheaper SME until you realise that you then have hundreds of contracts to run rather than one or two. This of course necessitates a huge expansion in the number of staff required in IMS and elsewhere to manage it. This goes straight to the bottom line of the IT charge every bit as much as the cost of the PC. Needless to say when you include this overhead the cost savings almost certainly evaporate at once. Then you have to get all these separate application developed by different companies on different operatings systems, software and databases talking to each other. HMRC struggle to manage that with just one or two giant IT suppliers. They will have no f*cking hope if their are dozens of them. Add in the risk that one of your SME will go bust leaving a business critical application without support and you are well on the way trip to palookaville.

    All these price comparisons to stand alone desktop computers flogged in PC world are laughable when talking about government IT. HMRC never, never use machines and software straight out of the box. They invariably have to be customised to the nth degree to disable security holes and to match the archane requirements of the department. They also have to struggle along with a thousand legacy applications that dont like the modern world. This is why when a brand new shiny PC is received on of the first things that has to be done is to uninstall Windows 7 and load the system with an old version of XP tailored to run with IE6. Otherwise nothing works.

    HMRC IT suppliers may be a rubbish bunch of rip off merchants but HMRC are the ones that chose them. Moreover they have swapped the companies they used at least once when they ditched EDS for Capgemini/Fujitsu without any noticeable improvement in performance. Now they think trading in the current lots for a 100 more will make things better. If the Board of HMRC want to know why their IT systems are crap all they need to do is to stand in front of a mirror to see the true culprits.

    BTW for those under the illusion that UK government is a one way ticket to instant IT riches ought to realise that some of the biggest players on the park such as IBM are deeply reluctant to deal with HMG because the margins are now so skinny and the reputational risk to their business is too huge This is particularly so when dealing with an organisation such as HMRC that is constantly changing its requirements, and quite often shows a considerably degree of bad faith in sticking to the terms of legal commercial contracts that it has signed. Pretty soon if things continue as they are the HMRC will have nothing but SME to do its IT work. Of course, the alternative would be to bring the IT function in house where it should have been kept in the first place since it is actually now the core of the how the enterprise works.

  10. People seem to be under the misapprehension about HMRC IT contracts. The suppliers job is not to build and deliver computer systems but to take the blame when anything in HMRC goes wrong. They are employed as professional scapegoats so the Board of HMRC never have to do the Perpetrators Walk of Shame.

  11. A few months back Pavot's note to all staff caused many chuckles, saying please don't call for IT help unless you really, really need it - as it costs us £30 every time you call! But to top that, how much do you think HMRC pay to move a laptop from one user to another in the same building? £600 is all! If it's 2 different sites, £1200! Truly unbelievable but true

  12. Don't forget guys and gals of HMRC. The money you waste on this stuff could have been used for the 'hospitals and schools we all rely on'