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It’s the Civil Service, Jim, but not as we know it

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Pete Schofield HMRC Digital Director of IT Development Testing & OperationsHi, I’m Pete and I’m responsible for the teams that build, test and run all 600 of HMRC’s live IT services which look after the £575 billion we bring into the public purse every year. But how did I get here, and what’s it like working in HMRC digital?

Varied career

After a lengthy career in various household name private sector organisations including The Prudential, Natwest, Carphone Warehouse, BskyB and most recently M&S, it was time for something different - I was ready for a new challenge. And HMRC fitted the bill.

The scale of HMRC’s operation dwarfs most other organisations. To support more than 2.3 billion transactions every year (70% of all government transactions), HMRC has one of the largest and most complex IT estates in Europe. It’s already one of the UK’s most digital organisations, has big ambitions to deliver even better services, and one of the largest transformation agendas around.

No regrets

Operating on a scale this big might put some people off, but I jumped at the chance to join them. I’ve been here three and a half years and I haven’t regretted the move to the public sector one bit. This really isn’t the Civil Service I was expecting.

From day one I’ve worked with a group of committed, energetic and talented people, who want to provide great services for our customers - external and internal - and get the best value for money from the public purse.

Massive changes

We’ve brought in some massive changes like launching the Personal Tax Account, overseen increasingly large digital events like our Self Assessment filing peak (9.59m online returns received this year - 92% of all returns filed) and undergone big internal changes as we move to a more mobile and flexible workforce. While all this has been going on we’ve virtualised and migrated big parts of our estate to the cloud, and we are constantly working hard to protect HMRC, which is one of the most phished ‘brands’ in the world. We’ve recently pulled down 75 fake websites and phone call forwarding services to protect our customers from tax scams.

As if that weren’t enough we’ve also recently completed the safe exit from our large and complex outsourcing contract. In the last two years we’ve taken back control of our IT services from our suppliers, and insourced around 600 people to help us maintain those services. This is a huge achievement.

Exciting IT projects

Government IT might have seemed a bit pedestrian in the past, but that certainly isn’t the case any longer. We have some of the most exciting IT projects anywhere and the best people delivering them.

That’s not to say everything in the garden is rosy. We have to work with some old processes, structures and ideas, which mean we can’t always move as quickly as we would like. Some legacy systems were built on old IT and are too expensive to replace, so in some places we’ve adapted our new services to integrate with these older delivery methods and technologies.

Big responsibility and fun

These things just add extra colour and challenge to each day as we work to implement ideas that will touch the lives of every person in the UK. It’s a huge responsibility but it brings with it a huge amount of satisfaction and fun. Yes, I did say fun – working can’t be serious all of the time, no matter how important the subject matter is.

We’ve jobs on offer at the moment including a vacancy for a new Finance Director and Deputy Director for IT Delivery. If you think you have what it takes to operate on a big stage why not find out more.

Pete Schofield HMRC digital



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  1. Comment by Pete Schofield posted on

    Hi Kate, thanks for getting in touch. I'd be delighted to come along and meet with you and the Reward and Employment Engagement Forum. I will contact you directly to arrange.

  2. Comment by Kate Upcraft posted on

    Hello Pete, I'm ex M&S (HR then company payroll manager) and now I'm a consultant working with employers and agents who use RTI, the PTA and the BTA to name just three of the key systems in your portfolio. It would be great to explore how we stakeholders can help more with this digital transformation. I'm working with the BTA team at the moment user testing the upgrade and hope to be visiting the PTA team in December too. There is a group of us called the Reward and Employment Engagement Forum (software developers rep bodies, agents) who'd be keen to meet with you, or any of your team. as we regularly work with government policy and operational teams to share our expertise and perspective.