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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.

Returning to the theme of HMRC becoming a digital business, Hall is adamant that he will drive through a digital and data driven strategy in an organisation that is "all about people, numbers and data," which in the past has meant paper.

"Over two hundred services are already online and we will take that further. We have a whole series of projects on PAYE, tax statements and self assessment to become digital services.

"The heart of our thinking is that technology affords us the benefit of dealing with customers digitally and in the case of business, it's what business wants.

"We want to take a different approach, to be more agile in delivery and so we are working with the Government Digital Service," he says of the increasing cross-departmental digital drive affecting Whitehall.

This is having a knock on effect to HMRC and Hall's budgets too. Despite the rhetoric from the Tory-led government that its primary focus is on reducing the government deficit and the running costs of government, HMRC received a further £77 million in December 2012 to invest in the tools to tackle fraud.

This government investment follows the 2010 launch of Connect the technology that monitors data such as social networks about UK tax payers to spot fraud. The BAE Systems technology, according to the Financial Times, cost HMRC £45 million but has delivered £1.4 billion in additional revenue.

Hall wants to take technology that is proven to deliver revenue to the government further by putting the technology right into the stream of financial activity, so that HMRC can monitor fraudulent activity mid-transaction he says.

But his strategy isn't just about catching our less than respectable citizens, he believes data is at the heart of benefitting well meaning tax payers, so the technology HMRC deploys must be central he says to a CRM and behaviour analysis based approach to know more and manage customers, as tax payers are now called.

HMRC was one of the first departments to implement a major G-cloud-based technology with the announcement in September 2012 that it is deploying Skyscape to create a centralised data storage network on the Public Sector Network. Hall explains that Skyscape means file storage is taken away from local HMRC offices and moved to the cloud as a centrally hosted service that will deliver significant cost savings.

Hall adds that the Office servers in HMRC offices nationwide are moving on to Skyscape, removing servers from those locations and securing the servers on a central hosting operation.

Hall is keen to enable consumerisation within HMRC and is already trialling the iPad in a pilot.

"We are looking at moving many users to consumer devices," Hall says. He is open to either Apple or Microsoft consumer devices.


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