HMRC agrees early end to Aspire contract

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will next month begin tendering for new contracts to replace its much-criticised Aspire contract.

The department has announced that it has reached agreement with existing suppliers Capgemini and Fujitsu to end the existing £10bn Aspire contract earlier than planned.

It said that the existing contract – which underpins the annual collection of around £500bn in tax income – will be broken up into a series of smaller deals.

HMRC chief executive Lin Homer said: “HMRC’s ambition is to be one of the most digitally-advanced tax authorities in the world, and the agreement we have reached to exit the Aspire contract brings that a huge step closer.”

“Our new approach enables HMRC to secure the adaptable, cutting-edge IT services we need to transform our services to customers and modernise the way we work, at much better value for money for the taxpayer.”

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The Aspire contract had been due to end in 2017.

In 2014, the National Audit Office said that HMRC was overly dependent on the technical capability of the Aspire suppliers, which limited its ability to manage the contract commercially.

NAO head Amyas Morse said there had been a “lack of rigour” in HMRC’s management of the contract.

“It is essential in any contract that the client retains the independent expertise to challenge the supplier,” he said.

HRMC will look to place some of the new contracts with small and medium enterprises and will bring some ICT services and staff in house during the closure of the Aspire contract.

Colin Marrs

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