HMRC digital chief announces his departure

The taxman’s chief digital and information officer, Mark Dearnley, is to leave the agency in September.

Dearnley joined HM Revenu & Customs (HMRC) in October 2013, signing a three-year contract in the process, with the remit of transforming its IT through the creation of new digital services. He was also responsible for overseeing of the transition from its £800m a year Aspire IT contract.

In a statement Dearnley confirmed that his contract would not be renewed and that he intends to return to the private sector. The decision has reportedly been taken on the back of recent discussions with HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson about his role and comes hot on the heels of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) calling on HMRC to ensure continuity with regard to leadership of its major Aspire outsourcing contract that has been extended until 2020.

Mike Potter, who has served as director of digital transformation for the organisation, will take over the CIDO position on an interim basis. The department said it expected to launch a fair and open competition process for a full-time replacement very shortly, adding that “plans for technology and digital in HMRC remain unchanged”.

In his role Dearnley received between £180,000 – £184,999 per year, making him one of the most highly paid digital heads in government.

Dearnley said: “We have replaced our outdated internal IT, launched digital tax accounts for individuals and businesses, and have successfully concluded negotiations to dismantle the Aspire IT contract, taking more direct control of the design and delivery of our digital technology services at huge cost savings for HMRC.

“We have also built one of the strongest digital technology teams in the world and I am confident that they will continue to deliver HMRC’s IT transformation at pace.”

However, in its annual report last month, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority rated the £600m Aspire replacement project as Amber/Red, meaning the programme is at high risk of failure.

Related reading