HMRC starts search for permanent chief digital information officer

Tax authority offers £180,000 for digital DG some six months after Mark Dearnley headed back to the private sector

HMRC is seeking a CDIO – Photo credit: PA

The government is looking for an experienced and successful IT leader to take on the “substantial and challenging” role of chief digital information officer of HMRC.

The advert, posted at the end of last week, comes six months after the former CDIO, Mark Dearnley, left the position – the role has been filled on an interim basis by Mike Potter, who was previously director of digital transformation, since September 2016.

The position, which is listed as a director general role and advertised at up to £180,000, will involve overseeing the tax authority’s digital strategy and transformation, as well as playing a leading role in cross-government transformation work.

“This role is one of the most challenging and exciting technology roles in the civil service. We have a stretching agenda to deliver, and we need an exceptional leader to help us do so”, said HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson in the foreword to the recruitment pack.

“Operating on a stage this big is not for everyone. But if you really see your future as a transformational technology leader then we have an opportunity that very few other organisations can match.”

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The new recruit will come into the department as it aims to overhaul a complex IT estate with a range of legacy systems and become the world’s most digitally-advanced tax authority, an effort into which HMRC has invested £1.3bn.

They will also have to manage the department’s effort to exit Whitehall’s highest-value IT contract – the £10bn Aspire contract – a process that various committees have criticised for “lacking rigour” and being too reliant on the technical capability of the suppliers Capgemini.

More recent reports have indicated that HMRC is making better progress in turning things around, but the Public Accounts Committee stressed in July 2016 that “firm and consistent leadership” would be needed to make the work a success.

Meanwhile, the authority has a range of other ongoing technology programmes, including an increased use of robotic automation services and a strong focus on big data. HMRC is bringing all of its data – between 1 and 5 petabytes – into a single Enterprise Data Hub, which will allow HMRC to up its use of data analytics while also decommissioning its costly data warehouse.

HMRC is also transforming its estates – it plans to cut its offices from 170 in 2015 to just 13 regional centres and four specialist sites by 2021 – and reduce the number of staff working in the department, and focus them in more highly-skilled roles.

The new recruit will lead on the digital strategy for the department, make sure that the department’s change programme is aligned with the overarching priorities, and manage HMRC’s CDIO group, which employs 2,200 people and has an expenditure of more than £800m.

The job specification said that applicants should have extensive experience in managing and overseeing complex IT environments and operations, a track record of leading digital strategies and the ability to to challenge, influence and debate with other high-level executives.

The closing date for applications is 5 May, with the final interviews to be held in the last week of June.

As well as Thompson, the selection panel will also include the Government Digital Service’s director general Kevin Cunnington, who is also co-chair of the government’s Transformation Peer group, that aims to bring together expertise and help Whitehall leaders share best practice.


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