New HMRC IT boss to 'recuse' herself over Microsoft decisions

UK taxman's CDIO Jacky Wright currently on 'sabbatical'

Exclusive The UK's incoming Chief Digital Information Officer of HMRC is to recuse herself from making any decisions regarding Microsoft, as she is on sabbatical from the company under a two-year placement with the taxman.

Jacky Wright was named as CDIO last week, and will take up the £180,000 per annum role in October 2017. She is currently corporate vice president of Microsoft, but The Register discovered she has not officially left Microsoft, having instead taken a leave of absence.

Asked whether the appointment represented a conflict of interest, given she will have ultimate say over billions of IT spend, an HMRC spokesman said: "Jacky will be appointed to HMRC on a fixed two-year contract.

"She must recuse herself from any discussion and decisions relating to Microsoft, both within HMRC and across Government, and we will put in place the necessary governance to manage."

Like most organisations, HMRC has a huge Microsoft footprint. The department is thought to have up to 85,000 desktops running Windows.

One insider said many of those are using Office 365, which it has also shifted its file storage to. He said HMRC also has a huge server estate primarily running Windows and is currently considering whether it moves to Azure.

"If she's recusing herself that could be awkward," he said. "HMRC does so much with Microsoft already."

The public sector spent £423m with Microsoft for the full-year 2016, according to a recent report by TechMarketView.

HMRC is currently undergoing "the largest transformational project" in Europe, according to consultancy firm McKinsey. It is attempting to overhaul its £10bn Aspire contract with Capgemini and Fujitsu, while at the same time "digitising" tax systems.

In totally unrelated matters, Microsoft avoided £100m in tax payments on UK revenue of £8bn by using a confidential deal to book sales in Ireland, The Sunday Times reported in summer 2016. ®

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