By Tony Collins
HMRC has one of the biggest IT outsourcing contracts in central government, a deal worth about £8bn with Capgemini, which began in 2004. Before that, between 1994 and 2004, the main IT supplier was EDS, now HP. But HMRC has had pervasive IT-related challenges for more than a decade.
Today Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, commented on a report by the National Audit Office on HM Revenue & Customs’ 2011-12 accounts.
“Sadly it is no surprise that the NAO has found substantial problems with the HMRC’s accounts. This year has seen a litany of tax errors and scandals come to light with mistakes made at the most senior level from the Permanent Secretary for Tax downwards.
“The sheer scale of waste and mismanagement at HMRC never ceases to shock me. Without even mentioning the tax gap, in 2011-12 the Department wrote off a staggering £5.2 billion of tax owed, overpaid nearly £2.5 billion in tax credits due to fraud and error and underpaid around £290 million.
“In some areas the Department is moving in the right direction and has made progress to implement improvement plans. But the Department is still plagued by IT problems; limiting, for example, its ability to link together the debts owed by tax payers across different tax streams.
“With its long history of large scale IT failures, the Department needs to get a grip before it introduces its new real time PAYE information systems and begins the high-risk move from tax credits to the Universal Credit.”
Timetable for HMRC’s work on Universal Credit is “challenging” says NAO.