CIO Profile: HMRC's Mark Hall on IT rationalisation

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CIO Profile: HMRC's Mark Hall on making tax collecting more responsive

HM Revenue & Customsdeputy CIO Mark Hall has gone through a process of embedding a more business-aligned team at the organisation and now he believes the new workforce structure allows him to enter an optimise phase.

An example of the optimisation, according­ to Hall, is the development of a new ­National Insurance and PAYE service. Previously this consisted of 12 separate databases and focused on employers and not employees, which meant that HMRC had no single view of their customer — the taxpayer.

Each customer now has one record with all their pay and tax information and their contact history with HMRC.

The new operation rep­laces a system that linked individuals to employers, and employers to tax offices. If somebody changes job or has two or more jobs, then multiple tax offices were often involved in different queries for the same individual.

“Now we have something that is customer-focused and we are able to monitor customer behaviour,” he says.

To deliver the three key objectives, IT has been driving a strategy dubbed 13 Mach­ines, which will consolidate an estate of 550 applications to 13 core platforms. HMRC identified that the 13 platforms already existed within the department and that these would support the bulk of business process requirements.

“We must re-engineer the IT to serve our requirements better so that we can segment and do business intelligence,” Hall says of the desire for a single customer view. The 13 machines will cover the core processes of HMRC: tax processing, pay as you earn (PAYE), National Insurance, VAT, benefits and tax credits.

Calendar spikes
As Hall’s department implements 13 Machines, the critical role of tax collection and its increasingly IT-led processes has to continue. Just a week before we interviewed Hall the self-assessment tax deadline closed. Of the 6.9 million people who filed their tax returns online, 580,000 did so on the final day: a rate of 14 per second. “On that day we are the third busiest website in the world,” says Hall.

“We call them business events. The tax calendar is a project in its own right and there is incredible activity around them preparing our call centres and IT. On an annual basis many of these events are bigger than any company does in a year.”

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