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.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pacesetter Works!

On Wednesday I wrote the following:
"However, it is suspected that this is an excuse to cover the fact that the Solicitor's Office has a backlog of thousands of such cases.

Why has such a backlog arisen?

Step forward HMRC's much "loved" Pacesetter work process, which seemingly has caused the backlog.

Apparently endless amounts of time and money are now being spent trying to reinvent the wheel to make processes more efficient. Unfortunately all that happens is that the opposite happens, and work doesn't get done and backlogs develop
Well, it looks as though I was wrong. Pacesetter, according to this comment posted by a loyal reader, is in fact working very well indeed:
"Unfortunately though (for all the Pacesetter/Naysayers) across ALL depts, productivity has increased significantly year by year since it's introduction.

I'm sure Ken a simple FOI request would clarify this, rather than an observation that is 'seemingly' apparent. Unless you want to share your source? "
So you see folks I was wrong!

As were all staff across "ALL depts", who have been slagging Pacesetter off; it really does work, and we are very foolish to even to try to deny that!

No more negative comments about Pacesetter please, as these seem to be upsetting the powers that be.

Of course claiming that Pacesetter is a "success" all very much depends on what your definition of "success" and "increased productivity" is, and what KPI's are used (not all KPI's add real value to an organisation or its processes).

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Come to a compliance office and watch it in practice. Latest idea a section 9A enquiry should take 12 weeks from opening to settlement at most. Maybe that's how long it takes to produce and ship car parts but time-scales on

    1. 12 weeks?! When I was in the Dept I had cases which ran for five years or more, with no delays on either side. Tax can get bloody complicated sometimes, something which pacesetter practitioners (AKA total wankers) fail to understand.

    2. Exactly! try to tell these people there are laws and procedures to follow and you are told you are being 'difficult' They simply do not understand tax. Good fun tying the 'practitioners' up in legislation when they try to enforce this though, it makes them look and feel like the halfwits they are.

  2. To be fair Ken, you take the opinion of one person (your loyal reader) as gospel, yet ridicule the opinion of someone else who doesn't agree.

    As with most debates, the views are probably both a bit wrong and a bit right; at least try to have some sort of a discussion before letting the bias take over.

    1. One does not need 'a loyal reader' to know Pacesetter is a clunker. You only have to read the NAO report

      All HMRC 'efficiencies' are basically have nothing to do with new processes and everything to do with reducing staff numbers. Laying off or retiring employees to cut overheads requires no skill and is not a novel idea . The problem is keeping the business or organisation viable once the people have gone. Quite alot of companies in the private sector downsize and then simply disappear because they can no longer function. My impression is that HMRC is well beyond the point of no return. As things get stickier for the government I expect its tolerance of HMRC failings will wear thin. At some time in the near future the Department will probably be disbanded and broken back down to its component parts (Customs, Inland Revenue, Valuation Office etc) with all benefit related items going back to the DWP. RTI is almost certainly the issue that will trigger the final crisis before dissolution.

    2. I agree, I am also of the view that HMRC is beyond the point of no return and will be broken up.

      The only thing that I am not sure of is whether the politicians know this and are cynically waiting for RTI to cause the complete implosion so that they can use that as the excuse to break it up, or whether they are in denial and still believe it can be saved and that RTI will work.

      Views and comments on this very welcome.

    3. Re "to be fair", I take the opinions (as often stated on this site and in emails to me) of many loyal readers on board wrt Pacesetter and its pros/cons. Look through the comments on this site over the years, and you will see very few (apart from that one comment) in favour of Pacesetter.

    4. 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 tempatation 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.

    5. 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 "quick wins" policy etc.

    6. I am now happily retired. On Phil Pavitt's first day I sent him an email welcoming him to the shambles that was HMRC's IT. I told him that IMHO the problems were two-fold 1. People (T/P) do not work from instruction manuals they WILL get it wrong. HMRC claims to want to help them to get it right first time, but the system validation is so tight its back to camels and needles. This is why you end up with t/p's who have 10-15 records because everything has to be perfect first time round.

    7. The current performance management system favours those who get involved in fluffy (and often aborted) projects, over those who simply want to do a good job and vainly hope that doing so will be appreciated. The view is that if you do not demonstrate ambition to get to the next grade, you are coasting. This means that in a team, those who play the system and attach themselves to such projects are highly marked and tend to move on, while those who primarily wish to do their job well are marked down and carry on with increasing demoralisation, get out early, or just get out.

    8. couldnt agree more. it is impossible to achieve what is expexcted under fair means

  3. HMRC can't even quantify the benefits of Pacesetter to its owns staff despite numerous requests.... or the NAO if I recall... a FOI wouldn't prove anything!

    We all know that stats can be pretty much made to say whatever you want them to say!