Skip to main content

Introducing the HMRC Digital Data Academy

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Data, Data academy, Guest blog

HMRC Digital Data Academy

I’m Richard Moss, head of the recently-founded HMRC Digital Data Academy based in Shipley, Yorkshire. My team includes performance analysts, statisticians, data scientists and even a growing number of academics who provide a different perspective on things and even some challenges to grapple with. This is the first time I’ve blogged about our Academy and I wanted to share our vision for it, and why I think it’s an exciting step for HMRC.

HMRC has always had a strong and well-established analytics capability, providing costings and advice for policy development and forecasting future revenues. However, focusing on the data from interactions with our digital systems opens a whole new area. In the Academy our work varies from daily and weekly reports on social media interactions to research projects covering years of data to get the most accurate and cutting-edge forecasts of how our systems will be used in the future. We’ve expanded to recruit some of the best people to lead our main research areas. They are providing an excellent steer  on the best possible tools and techniques to use.

Our aim is to provide a host of analysis to best fit the needs of our HMRC clients, from novel statistical techniques to introducing machine learning and neural network processes to the most demanding analysis. To complement this rapidly expanding field, we’ve brought in a dedicated skills and capability team to provide knowledge and training to the entire team.

Our two leading academics, Dr. John Burton and Dr. Sarah Keast, have introduced a number of areas of work, to the team such as collaboration with leading UK universities as well as research techniques and methods that have previously been outside the reach of HMRC.

John says

Before I joined the Digital Data Academy in June, I taught at universities around the world: from Toronto to Cambridge. I gained my PhD in Astronomy and taught while carrying out research. I enjoyed teaching most of all and that’s what motivated me to join the HMRC’s Digital Data Academy in Shipley. I’ve only been here a couple of months but teaching people who want to learn and helping my colleagues develop skills which will directly benefit them at work (and beyond) has been really enjoyable.

John Burton teaching at the Digital Data Academy
John Burton teaching at the Digital Data Academy

My role in the academy is to use my previous academic experience to provide training and development opportunities to staff, not just here in the academy but throughout the whole HMRC office. I teach around eight sessions a week including Python, an introduction to programming,  statistics and analytical methods.

I work in partnership with Sarah, who was the head of economics at Plymouth before she started working in the Digital Data Academy. We also carry out research using some of the abundant and rich data gathered by HMRC and the academy is heading towards operating like a university department in its ambitious approach to being at the cutting edge of digital data analytics.

Our vision for the academy involves collaboration with universities and big players in the field of data analysis.

To kick start our work and we’ve organised an HMRC Data 2017 event this month in our Shipley Collaboration Zone where data analysts from across HMRC are gathering to share their ideas, use of analytical tools and environments plus we’ve got guest speakers from across government and further afield coming too.

Richard Moss Head of HMRC Digital Data Academy

I plan to blog again soon about the key findings from our data event, and am keen to hear from anyone from a data science background with an interest in our work.

 Richard Moss, Head of Digital Data Academy, Shipley


Don't miss any of our blog posts sign up for email alerts

Check out our current vacancies. They're updated regularly so worth keeping an eye on


Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Richard Moss posted on

    Hi Mel. Our Qualitative Analysis and Social Media Lead, Dr Steven McDermott joined us from UAL this week and would be very happy to have a discussion with you to see where we can help. Richard

  2. Comment by Mel posted on

    Great to see this, Richard. I'm currently working on a project which has me looking into communicating via social media and how we can then evaluate that, so the Digital Data Academy sounds like a definite port of call!