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Brit tax collector HMRC wants fireside chat with suppliers to discuss ways to spend the annual £900m IT budget

Prising open that pork barrel again? Nah, it's never been closed

UK tax collector Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs wants to reboot its supply chain by opening up its entire £900m annual IT budget to the wider supplier landscape via a new Technology Sourcing Programme (TSP).

In a tender document published today, HMRC, which is responsible for the collection of £600bn in tax annually, said it was "breaking down and addressing" the spending plan with TSP, which will kick off with a "market engagement event" on 12 October.

At the event, HMRC said it intends to describe the strategy and plans for the programme.

HMRC said the programme would aim to "deliver a step change in how HMRC delivers IT, works with IT suppliers to procure and utilise technology and how we work more broadly as an organisation".

The "ambition is to be one of the most digitally advanced tax authorities in the world and technology is at the heart of its transformation". Seasoned observers of HMRC IT strategy could be forgiven for rolling their eyes at such platitudes.

In 2016, HMRC set out to replace its £10bn Aspire IT contract with Capgemini and Fujitsu through a procurement that was expected to interest smaller and medium-sized companies, as well as larger providers, in a transition said to be fraught with risk. The department had already said it would save £200m renegotiating its Aspire outsourcing contract from 2012 during the age of austerity.

But by 2017, the government department was forced to defend its decision to ditch a British cloud provider in favour of tax-efficient multinational Amazon, claiming it would reap significant savings. El Reg revealed HMRC had moved its data out of Manchester-based Datacentred six months earlier.

Although the Aspire deal, which dated back to 2004, was reconfigured, HMRC's relationship with the two main contractors did not end. It awarded Capgemini an extension to 2022. And this month, Fujitsu won a two-year extension to its managed desktop services contract, also running to 2022.

Back in February, The Register exclusively revealed Fujitsu was cutting the workforce that provides projects work for HMRC following a reduction in the level of business.

Although the value for money in the Aspire project was criticised, it was seen by some as effective. The same cannot be said of its predecessor. In 2005, EDS, now part of DXC, paid £71.25m to settle its dispute with HMRC over the disastrous Tax Credit system, which overpaid poor families to the tune of £1bn.

HMRC will be hoping it can tick the value and performance boxes with its latest round of tendering.

In other UK government news, the Department for Work and Pensions has clarified that its £20m contract extension with Accenture will take the total contract spend to £428m. ®

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