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Taxpayers foot the bill: HMRC signs up Cognizant for £150m low-code, automation project

Brit tax collection agency's IT estate contains 'significant risk'

Britain's tax collection agency has handed £150m in contracts to integrator and consultant Cognizant, including work to assist with the implementation of Pega low-code and automation systems.

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) split that deal in two, awarding a £90m portion for building and supporting the Case Management Delivery Group's (CMDG) Pega Technology Stack.

"The majority of the projected outcome-based work will be 'build' related activities funded through relevant business projects," the tender notice states.

Meanwhile, the same systems integrator has also been given a contract priced at £60m to support "project initiatives and provide broad technology expertise" on the wider CMDG's stack outside of the Pega and Documentum (now OpenText) technologies.

Both arrangements are set to run until 2024.

HMRC has been working with Pega since at least 2018 in an effort to make its ageing IT estate easier to manage.

The government department has its work cut out in getting systems up to scratch, though. National Audit Office commentary on its annual report for 2019-2020 found the tax collector had spent £1.45bn on transformation from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

"HMRC has recognised that, due to the need in the past to forgo operational maintenance and upgrades to its systems to secure cost savings, its IT systems now constitute a significant risk to the Department. This will require significant investment and will need to be at the heart of any future Spending Review settlement," the public spending watchdog said [PDF].

It has been a busy summer for Cognizant at the UK government feeding trough. In July it won a £10m deal to roll out ServiceNow for NHS Digital, while in June it booked a £2m project with the Department for Education, and a £6.5m contract with HM Land Registry.

Pega, which builds software for so-called low-code development and automation, has also found the UK public sector lucrative. In March, it won a Navy and Air Force deal worth £9.5m. ®

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