By Tony Collins
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.”
“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?