Will HMRC’s new £180,000-a-year IT chief want to stay?

By Tony Collins

HMRC has appointedMark Dearnley as its new Chief Digital and Information Officer Mark Dearnley who is CIO at Vodafone.

He’ll join HMRC in October – perhaps at a time when the UK’s biggest companies will have gone live with RTI [real-time information] and at a time when there may be increased criticism over how well the new system works – or doesn’t. [Criticisms of aspects of RTI are becoming more trenchant despite the system’s good start.]

Dearnley will take control of a £500m-a-year IT operation that seeks to serve 45 million individuals, 4.8 million businesses and 65,000 HMRC employees. He will be responsible for implementing HMRC’s £200m digitisation programme and accelerating the planned delivery of online services for all taxpayers. He will also lead HMRC’s physical, personnel and information security.

Dearnley has been CIO at Vodafone UK since 2010 with responsibility for IT supporting 19 million customers. He led a programme to overhaul Vodafone’s business-critical information systems and was named Oracle Global Business Unit CIO of the Year in 2012 for this achievement. He restructured Vodafone’s IT operating model and introduced Cloud-based technologies into the mobile operator.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“It is an indication of the scale and seriousness of the Government’s digital ambition that one of the UK’s most experienced CIOs is leaving the private sector to take on this major role.

“Mark Dearnley’s appointment to HMRC is evidence that Government has the cutting-edge challenges that can attract the very best leaders in IT to public service.”

HMRC Chief Executive, Lin Homer, said:

“Mark is an exceptionally experienced CIO, with strong leadership and change management skills as well as an accomplished technical background across a spectrum of IT disciplines. HMRC has already embarked on an ambitious programme of digitisation to provide taxpayers with modern online services and Mark is the right person to deliver that for the UK.”

Dearnley said:

“I have spent my entire career in the private sector, mostly in customer-facing businesses. But no private business in the UK can match the customer base, scale or complexity of HMRC, which makes this role irresistible. I am thrilled to have been appointed and can’t wait to get started.”

HMRC says that Dearnley was recruited through a fair and open competition under the Government’s business appointment procedures for senior civil servants. The recruitment process was overseen by the Civil Service Commissioner, who led a panel that included two Permanent Secretaries and a Non-Executive Director.  David Camerson approved the appointment.

The annual salary for Dearnley’s director general role is £180,000.

Before Vodafone Dearnley spent six years at Cable and Wireless as CIO and in other senior IT roles. He also spent three years at Boots the Chemists, first as COO for the start-up of Boots.com and latterly as programme director.

He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Brunel University and is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and British Computer Society.


Few good senior IT people in central government departments seem to last long. Those from the private sector who have taken high-profile IT jobs in central government but not stayed include Phil Pavitt, Steve Lamey, Joe Harley and James Gardner.

Could it be that the public sector has a muddy, bureaucratic culture of careless, resistant-to-interference spending that is so incompatible with private sector values that a long stay becomes inconceivable?

5 responses to “Will HMRC’s new £180,000-a-year IT chief want to stay?

  1. Dick Turpin

    And 3 years to the day ……off he goes!!
    Another successful Excom appointment for the blue chip company Dearnley ends up with. Not so good for the people who’ve paid his wages for the last 3 years (not forgetting whatever ridiculous pension he has accrued in that short period).


  2. These Private Sector employees…coming over here, from a tax-dodging background, taking our Public Sector jobs at a HUGE salary (that’s where our pay increase went), fattening it up for privatisation then they bugger off back to the Private Sector & work out tax dodges again. Same old story – ruined by the privateers!


  3. OMG – Private Eye will have a field day! The Eye reports continuously on the “dodgy” tax deal done with Vodafone led by David Hartnett:

    More “revolving doors”?


    HMRC was accused of agreeing controversial “sweetheart” deals with large businesses over outstanding tax bills while it was still run by Mr Hartnett. The issue exploded last year after a whistle-blower revealed that HMRC had waived as much as £20m of interest on a £30m tax bill owed by Goldmans on bankers’ bonuses. It was also accused of letting Vodafone off as much as £8bn in taxes by accepting a £1.25bn settlement.


  4. Yes you’re right. HMRC’s total annual IT spend is much more than the £500m figure HMRC quotes.

    I guess the “£500m-a-year IT operation” is only part of HMRC’s ICT spend.The National Audit Office said the original ASPIRE contract with Capgemini (which included Accenture’s HMRC work) was worth about £800m a year which reduced to about £700m a year.

    In a blog for ComputerworldUK last year I pointed out that HMRC’s annual IT spend came to a record £964m for 2011/12. That figure came from adding up its monthly invoice payments, details of which were released under Francis Maude’s transparency initiative. http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/the-tony-collins-blog/2012/11/why-cabinet-office-is-trying-to-control-hmrcs-it-spending/index.htm


  5. Interesting to note that the HMRC spend with Accenture in November 2012, according to – http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/transparency/25k-trans-nov.csv – was ££ 56,754,492.09 just for that month.
    Copy the csv file and sort according to supplier Post Code TF3
    Slightly more that the £500 m quoted in the article?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.