Risky plans by UK taxmen to overhaul their expensive £10bn IT systems with Capgemini – which underpins government's £500bn in annual revenue collection – have been flagged as high risk of failure.
In its annual report by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, the body rated the £600m project as amber/red, meaning the programme is at high risk of failure.
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The report assesses the progress of 143 major projects representing a £405bn investment across government, a significant proportion of which include IT programmes.
Surprisingly the much-delayed £16bn Universal Credit programme and the £19bn Smart Meters project were both rated as Amber by the authority, meaning there is a chance the programmes will be delivered at some point.
The is the first time HMRC's Aspire replacement programme has been assessed by the authority, which is due to be complete in 2021. Yet it has already achieved one of the highest risk ratings by the authority.
The programme aims to manage the safe exit of HMRC's ASPIRE IT contract that expires in June 2017 via a new HMRC IT operating and sourcing model, "enabling HMRC’s digital and data transformation".
It is intended to ensure continuity of IT supply to the department with minimal disruption while ensuring better value for money across 400 smaller suppliers.
Given the fact that HMRC's Aspire IT programme is the one system literally cannot afford to go wrong, the rating could result in squeaky bum time Whitehall.
However, the IPA noted that since the Amber-Red assessment in September last year, the programme has made "significant progress" successfully delivering the first phase of the programme.
"The Programme has now reached contractual agreement with the major Aspire suppliers to exit the Aspire contract in a phased way that will protect service continuity to HMRC's customers and protect the flows of revenue into the Exchequer.
"The Programme is proceeding cautiously keeping close management attention on the phased exit plan to ensure that significant risks do not materialise," said the IPA.
Coincidentally HMRC has just put out a job ad for an IT programme director at £120k per year to oversee its change programme. "HMRC is in the midst of what is probably its biggest transformation," notes the advert. ®