Recent reports have suggested that HMRC are looking at the feasibility of outsourcing tax return processing offshore. This has raised a number of concerns regarding the security of confidential data within such an operation.
Internal documents leaked to Computer Weekly revealed that two of HMRC’s main IT contractors, Fujitsu and Capgemini, who provide services under the Aspire consortium have been asked to consider a number of options under the Quantum project with the aim of saving the department £205 million per annum.
HMRC is due to release an internal report on its Quantum project in the next month. It is expected that this will reveal plans to reduce the costs of the £8.5 million Aspire programme. This contract had been renewed back in 2004 but its costs have since doubled and HMRC are grappling with the need to cut costs while continuing to provide quality services. They also must ensure all of their departments work within the strictest security guidelines. Public trust in this area has hit an all time low due to some recent data security lapses by the government.
The Public and Commercial Services Union Capgemini Group have already released memos to HMRC Aspire staff stating that Quantum has considered “offshoring some future work”. The likelihood is that this would be in India. However, HMRC have stated to the Telegraph that the Aspire programme “does not permit” IT services to be delivered offshore and that this restriction is unlikely to be amended.
The disclosures made to Computer Weekly include a six point plan with the aim of improving the supply of IT and restructuring this service to ensure it maximises efficiency and value. This will then be standardised and tailored to meet the needs of HMRC. Aspire and the services provided through this consortium will be central to the Quantum money saving initiative.