back to article MPs reiterate risks of mega £10bn Aspire contract overhaul

UK MPs have warned that HMRC (HM Revenues and Customs) may struggle to overhaul its expensive £10bn IT systems with Capgemini, and that further cuts could ultimately waste more taxpayers' cash. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report published today said the body remains concerned that HMRC may struggle to integrate …

  1. Sir Barry

    Oh dear

    You just know how this is going to turn out.

  2. spiny norman

    I'm Puzzled

    The government wants large public sector IT contracts to be split into smaller units and handed to a larger number of providers, including SMEs. Part of the rationale being that very large contracts are hard to manage. Then when HMRC tries to do what it's been told to do, PAC rings its hands over how difficult it will be to manage it all. Maybe it's just managing IT contracts that they find hard, never mind how big they are.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm Puzzled

      See, these tier one suppliers are acting as they would regardless of the customer. That is, deliver the contracted service to spec and make cash doing it. Problem is, these contracts are drawn up by public sector policy wonks. In the majority of cases, these wonks have worked for the public sector exclusively, indulge in petty empire building and will ensure that they have someone to blame when things inevitably go wrong. They write contracts that have such ridiculous clauses that end up hamstringing the agency instead of the supplier, are needlessly complex and ruinously expensive. Paradoxically, sacking the supplier is both 1: easier than sacking the wonk and 2: won't solve the fundamental problem and will ensure that the petty empires endure until the next round of departmental restructures (code for: we need to clear out the useless dross before they take over and drown us in trivia and minutae).

      Anonymous, because for my sins, I've worked in Public Sector. Clueless doesn't even begin to describe some of the bods that worked there...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The great thing is

    When a Govt contract gets past 200 million, no-ones counting. How the flippity do you get to 10 billion. Wouldnt it be nice to see the contract and have a look? But no, no chance!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The great thing is

      How the flippity do you get to 10 billion.

      By 'misrepresentation' of the figures, namely, cite the total lifetime value of the contract (circa 11 bn) and not it's per annum value (circa 700m).

      It's a bit like saying IT staff are expensive because they cost over 1m GBP, omitting to mention that this figure is the total amount many will earn over a 40 year working life...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The great thing is

        The same argument stands as to how the HMRC needs a service contract of £700m and what exactly is provided.

        Jesus, I can divide the lifetime amount by the number of years like the next cynical analyst who's seen this bollocks going on for years.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: The great thing is

          as to how the HMRC needs a service contract of £700m and what exactly is provided.

          Whilst this is a little out of date, it should answer your question.

          As you will see HRMC require quite a lot more than a couple of guys who can install Windows and MS Office...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    common sense

    I know i should not expect this from government IT.

    I did a private contract for a TV company.

    We made a fairly small and specific system that automated about 18 people out of a job, the remaining 2 could do the job much quicker with the custom software we made. It also addressed some of the consistency issues that 20 different people brought to it.

    Throughout the development process the boss of these 20 people was my number one person for information about the the current process.

    I told her from the start the idea is remove people, not make their life easier and as the most expensive, she would probably be first. As a lifer at this company and me only a contractor, she thought me cynical.

    I am cold hearted, but i was genuinely a little sad to see her crying face when they finally did fire her.

    Without her detailed knowledge of the current process, we probably could have only replaced 10 of the 20.

    Don't fire the current people until you have the new system in place... duh.

  5. Joe Harrison


    Surely from the point of view of the government this must be one of their top five crucially intergalactically important computer systems. I mean it's where all their money comes from. Why are they even thinking of hoping to save a few quid by messing with it?

  6. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Alarmists. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

  7. KeithR

    " these contracts are drawn up by public sector policy wonks"

    Nope, completely and utterly wrong there.

    "Clueless doesn't even begin to describe some of the bods that worked there..."

    Less cluelessness since you left, I imagine...

  8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge


    > Last year, HMRC was granted to make it one of the most "digitally advanced" countries

    Does anyone else find that sentence odd? I'm assuming that it means "HMRC was given a grant last year to make it one of the most digitally advanced tax agency of any country"..

    1. Happy_Jack

      Re: Proofreading?

      After decades of empire building HMRC has finally been granted statehood.

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