HMRC standardises 100,000 desktops and integrates legacy systems

HM Revenue and Customs has completed the introduction of a single desktop environment to 100,000 machines, integrating legacy systems from its two predecessor bodies that support 800 business critical services.

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HM Revenue and Customs has completed the introduction of a single desktop environment to 100,000 machines, integrating legacy systems from its two predecessor bodies that support 800 business critical services.

In a written memorandum to the Commons Treasury sub-committee, HMRC said the STRIDE (Strategic Integrated Desktop Environment) project, managed by Capgemini, had been completed in December, on time and within budget. Design and implementation costs are expected to total £161m over 2005-06 and 2006-07.

STRIDE provides a single corporate IT desktop, based on Windows XP, across the department formed from the merger of the Inland Revenue with Customs and Excise in last year. It also includes an upgraded corporate email service offering greater capacity and resilience and a remote access service, the memorandum said.

The new system would allow IT support officer posts to be cut by 500, it added.

Paul Grey, acting chair of the HMRC board, told the Treasury sub-committee that an £85m enterprise resource planning (ERP) programme to create a single back-office system for finance, procurement and human resources would be completed “by the end of this March”.

The ERP system, based on SAP enterprise software, is expected to generate savings of £214m over six years.

Integration of the two major IT contracts held by HMRC’s predecessor bodies, which brought services provided to Customs and Excise by Fujitsu under a private finance initiative contract into the ASPIRE contract held by Capgemini, would deliver “around £100m of savings” over the next three years, the memorandum said.

The completion of the two integration projects marks better news for HMRC, which has come under fire for recent IT failures. IT problems led to the scandal of tax credit claimants being overpaid a total of £2m between 2003 and 2005. In February, the department was also criticised by the Commons Public Accounts Committee for wrongly calculating PAYE codes for at least a quarter of taxpayers.

Grey was unable to tell the sub-committee how much of the cost of the two IT projects could be attributed to the HMRC merger and how much to other IT needs. “The directly identified integration costs were well within the £75m figure [earmarked for merger costs] but the common desktop platform involved costs that went beyond the merger costs” because of the need to update the IT systems and deal with changing business requirements, he told the MPs.

“Both [pre-merger] departments had major change programmes under way, and there have been further developments in those change programmes,” he said.

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