HMRC hunts data boss to boost analytics and insight

taxman new tooHM Revenue & Customs is hunting for a chief data officer to head up its 90-strong team and strengthen the organisation’s data analytics and insight capability, while boosting its open-source and data science strategies.

The move follows the departure of Kevin Fletcher, who first joined HMRC in 2005 having moved to the UK from his native South Africa, where he worked for the National Treasury.

After leading up to 2,000 people in tax compliance work, Fletcher took on HMRC’s data programme in 2015 as director of knowledge, analysis and intelligence, covering strategy, investment and culture change.

He was appointed CDO in 2017, embedding the data strategy, assuring governance, guiding investment choices and helping HMRC to realise the true value of its data.

Fletcher left in January to take up the role of CDO at social media safety and crisis monitoring firm Crisp.

HMRC, which describes the CDO position as “one of the biggest roles in the UK”, says the remit includes delivering data-centric cultural change across HMRC, encompassing “strategic vision, technology and process roadmap, direction and budget, [and] ensuring that execution of the strategy is aligned with organisational objectives”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the CDO will also be tasked with ensuring compliance with data protection legislation, as well as creating and implementing data standards. This should be done “in a way that is agile and risk-informed”.

Reporting to chief digital and information officer Daljit Rehal, the CDO will also be expected to work closely with the tax agency’s wider tech organisation and build “alignment between the data and enterprise architectures”.

The role comes with a salary of £149,000 and will be based at one or more of HMRC’s locations in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Telford, and Worthing.

Late last year, HMRC found itself in the dock after it was revealed the organisation reported almost a dozen serious personal data breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office during 2019/2020, hitting more than 23,000 people.

According to an analysis by legal firm Griffin Law, one incident alone affected 18,864 consumers, while the 11 incidents, which took place over the course of 12 months, affected a grand total of 23,173 people.

The law firm has branded HMRC “breathtakingly incompetent”, with hundreds of customers yet to be informed about at least one incident.

At the time, Griffin Law principle Donal Blaney said: “Taxpayers have a right to expect their sensitive personal data to kept secure by the taxman, the ICO should immediately investigate HMRC for these breaches and hold them to account.”

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