HMRC IT boss quit £185k job for more cash

Mark Dearnley was in charge of Europe's biggest public sector IT project


HMRC IT chief Mark Dearnley walked away from his £185,000-a-year job because the private sector paid better, MPs heard yesterday.

Speaking at a Commons public accounts committee hearing on Wednesday, Jon Thompson, chief executive of the UK tax body, was asked why Dearnley quit his role, which involved overseeing the agency's escape from its £800m-a-year Aspire IT contract.

"We made Mr Dearnley a very attractive offer, which would have made him one of the highest-paid director generals in the civil service and significantly more than me in my role as chief executive," said Thompson.

"But he decided to take another role. The market had spoken."

The committee was told Dearnley had done a good job in overseeing HMRC's risky transition from the £10bn Capgemini-run Aspire project. Under the replacement programme, HMRC hopes to make better use of taxpayers' money by handing out technology supply contracts to 400 smaller businesses and save £200m per year by 2021.

It is also bringing 300 Capgemini and Fujitsu staff in-house via its privately owned, HMRC-run limited company.

Asked if Dearnley's departure will have a negative impact, Thompson said it would not. He said HMRC has appointed Mike Potter as acting chief digital and information officer, who worked closely with Dearnley. However, he said the fear of other key individuals leaving to go to the private sector was a "constant worry."

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.

Dearnley announced he was stepping down after his three-year contract ended last month. His departure coincided with that of former Government Digital Service head Stephen Foreshew-Cain – leading some commentators to describe it as a "day of the digital long knives."

However, it seems Dearnley's reasons for going were more straight-forward.

HMRC recently advertised for a director to lead its IT transformation and cloud strategy with an annual salary of £140,000. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading
  • Perl Steering Council lays out a backwards compatible future for Perl 7
    Sensibly written code only, please. Plus: what all those 'heated discussions' were about

    The much-anticipated Perl 7 continues to twinkle in the distance although the final release of 5.36.0 is "just around the corner", according to the Perl Steering Council.

    Well into its fourth decade, the fortunes of Perl have ebbed and flowed over the years. Things came to a head last year, with the departure of former "pumpking" Sawyer X, following what he described as community "hostility."

    Part of the issue stemmed from the planned version 7 release, a key element of which, according to a post by the steering council "was to significantly reduce the boilerplate needed at the top of your code, by enabling a lot of widely used modules / pragmas."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022