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CIO Mark Hall on taxing task of making HMRC digital

Mark Chillingworth | June 28, 2013
HMRC opts for a single CIO, but Mark Hall continues the modernisation of the tax office.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), has until recently had a duo of CIOs, but since January 2013 Mark Hall, formerly IT director and deputy CIO has taken the helm as CIO.

In an interview at one of HMRC's agile meeting rooms for the IT team and flanked by two public sector PR representatives, Hall explains the changes he continues to lead and why HMRC only needs one CIO going forwards.

"I've had the best apprenticeship possible in my five years at HMRC," Hall says. Prior to HMRC Hall was CTO for Severn Trent Water and head of IT services at electricity firm Eon.

"It's a great training ground and I am very much building on the foundations Phil Pavitt put in, he is great on customer service.

"The challenges now are different; he [Pavitt] did a lot of fixing the IT. My world now is a lot more about business thinking," he says. Hall's remit has grown too the relaxed and personable CIO known for having a razor sharp mind is also responsible for all aspects of security at HMRC, physical and digital.

Hall reports to Lin Homer, the chief executive of HMRC who recently came in for sustained attacks from House of Commons home affairs select committee for her management of the UK Border Agency she ran before joining HMRC in January 2012.

Hall says the strategy and relationship he has with Homer is very focused on moving HMRC towards being a digital business and the department is cited as an exemplar service in the strategy of government CTO Liam Maxwell.

At the time of the CIO UK interview HMRC and Homer were reviewing whether the Whitehall department really needed a new head of change to replace Pavitt.

"All the change mechanisms for governance, investment and change management are there and they are working strongly," Hall says.

"HMRC is increasingly comfortable with change in terms of its ability to govern and manage change. It has improved massively. There is a strong focus on the human aspect of change as the engagement is still a challenge," he says of the common issue of people in any organisation not liking change.

"All of our offices are now campuses and we do Town Hall events so the narrative of change is quite strong now. The IT part of the change piece is where I have seen the biggest change. I have seen it mature and the link between the business and IT change is now that we are at the beginning of all conversations. So it feels a lot more like we are all equal partners," he says of the cultural transformation HMRC has been through since Hall joined August 2007.


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