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

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 …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Holmes

    The words....

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink came to mind when reading this article.

    Recluse herself? "Say no more"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can Azure you everything is above board...

      "I can Azure you everything is above board, regards my appointment"...

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: The words....

      There can be absolutely no bad Word word that could be said about her. She has proven herself to be Excel excellent at every opportunity and we are very much looking forward to her joining our Teams teams. We can assure taxpayers that the Outlook outlook for them and for thieving scum HMRC is indeed bright.

    3. Anomalous Cowshed

      Re: The words....

      In other news...

      Joe Clogs, a senior executive of Google, was yesterday appointed to head the ICO's policy unit. "He will not leave Google, he will be here on a 20 year sabbatical to help us adjust our procedures to the requirements of the modern world" said the head of the ICO in a press release.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The words....

        I often wonder if:

        - they are just ignorant of the real world and how it works

        - they are corrupt beyond redemption

        - the one eyed man is leading the blind

        Unfortunately the latter is most often the case. They actually believe they are doing the right thing, ignorance is bliss.

    4. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: The words....

      What are you all doing on here ? Take to the streets, demonstrate your discomfort !

      This is unacceptable, no ifs, buts or maybes ... that person is paid with your taxes !

  2. jake Silver badge

    What could possibly go wrong?

    How do I count the ways ...

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: What could possibly go wrong?

      the hens want to hire a fox for the henhouse to help guard against foxes raiding the henhouse...

      "I will recuse myself of all discussions regarding foxes"

      [I think I hear an echo]

      1. PNGuinn
        Coat

        Re: What could possibly go wrong?

        Bolting the stable door after the horse has eloped?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: What could possibly go wrong?

          What next a minister for health who believes in homeopathy?

        2. pleb

          Re: What could possibly go wrong?

          Is that a reference to Elop?

  3. LewisCowles1986

    This is getting stupid

    I bet the figures for government IT ignore some costs of being with MS and also probably some public-sector, but non-government spending using Microsoft.

    The real problem with "digitising tax" will be that we have a number of rather stupid rules that need to be simplified in order for an IT system to retain efficiency. If the codified tax laws were applied to all UK citizens it would probably take a data-centre on it's own; this is basically stupid.

    It needs a ground-zero nuke dropped on gov IT, with useful projects like centralised payments system at the fore (because big gov needs to know local gov isn't pilfering).

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: This is getting stupid

      Or a ground-zero nuke dropped on the tax & benefits system.

      1. M7S

        Re: This is getting stupid

        Careful now, that kind of suggestion is not very far from the tweet sent by Paul Chambers (search on this site if you don't remember him). Unless of course you are happy to rely on the legendary sense of humour that HMRC has*

        *Of course the sense of humour they're really waiting for belongs to one Mr. K Dodd, onetime resident of Knotty Ash, who it is hoped will be leaving his to the Exchequer in due course.

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper

          Re: This is getting stupid

          the legendary sense of humour that HMRC has*

          When I was working for the Inland Revenue, the precursor to HMRC, we tried to book Ken Dodd to play our staff social club. His agent didn't think that this was a good idea, for some reason.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Or a ground-zero nuke dropped on the tax & benefits system."

      Somebodies been reading Tom Clancy again.

    3. Robert Grant

      Re: This is getting stupid

      It needs a ground-zero nuke dropped

      All nukes are ground-zero nukes when they detonate.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        Re: All nukes are ground-zero nukes when they detonate.

        *Where* they detonate surely?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All nukes are ground-zero nukes when they detonate

        Including airburst ones?

        1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: "Including airburst ones?"

          Yes. It's just the point on the Earth's surface under the bomb (perpendicular) when it goes off.

          Not applicable to detonations in space, obviously.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: All nukes are ground-zero nukes when they detonate

          The Hiroshima one IIRC was detonated a hundred meters or more above the surface. The shock wave generated is strong enough to propagate at high speed and create lots of damages anyway. Then if you detonate one 100km above the surface is another matter....

  4. Korev Silver badge
    WTF?

    What will she actually do?

    When presiding over such a large Microsoft shop, if she "recuses" herself from all the decisions in this area, what is there left for her to do?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What will she actually do?

      "what is there left for her to do?"

      Make sure they don't install Linux?

      (which is the one thing they should be doing, but won't, move to Linux that is).

      I'm seeing so much that is iffy regards Windows 10, Currently trying to work out what is creating a local administrator account in the "Credentials Manager".

      It seems if you ever use Windows 10 to log into any MS live service (even once), it permanently links the laptop/machine to that account (in some way), even when you manually delete this account info/have only local (non Microsoft live, outlook etc) user accounts, these credentials get recreated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What will she actually do?

        "(which is the one thing they should be doing, but won't, move to Linux that is)."

        HMRC have one of the largest Linux estates in europe, having recently completed a successful migration away from the increasingly dated SLES to RHEL.

        But hey that's boring so why report on it.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: What will she actually do?

          This is the kind of "boring" story that many on here would find interesting and would like to read.

          1. Random Handle

            Re: What will she actually do?

            >This is the kind of "boring" story that many on here would find interesting and would like to read.

            Noticed HMRC've been advertising quite a few Linux/Unix devops jobs of late with a very hopeful skillset and on the kind of money you can make chirping out websites for Fleebayers...

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: What will she actually do?

              "Noticed HMRC've been advertising quite a few Linux/Unix devops jobs of late with a very hopeful skillset"

              Given they're using RHEL I'm guessing "Ability to configure and manage systemd with proven track record of sorting out its endless screwups" will be near the top of that skillset list.

      2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

        Re: What will she actually do?

        Currently trying to work out what is creating a local administrator account in the "Credentials Manager".

        What, you mean something other than IE actually supports the Credentials Manager?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What will she actually do?

          Win10's Credentials Manager is pretty creepy...it has to be said. Certainly seems to have a mind of its own. It would nice if it said who/why it re-created those credentials, that you just deleted and why it keeps those local administrator credentials in place permanently, after they are no longer in use. Doesn't seem very good regards security to me.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: What will she actually do?

      Basically, HMRC got a body-rental consultant from MS who promises to avoid any MS decision? This deal gives a whole new meaning to the revolving doors between the public and the private sector - now you don't need to pretend to leave your previous job.

      Also, what in her contract with MS will still apply while paid by HMRC?

    3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: What will she actually do?

      "what is there left for her to do?"

      Just sit back and collect the 180k i reckon

    4. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: What will she actually do?

      What is left for her to do, since Microsoft pervades just about everything in one way or another, is to collect her pay cheque each month.

      £180,000 per year to sit on your arse being recused. It's a very nice job, if you can get it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This stinks...

    ...and as aver, we know it stinks, but can do nothing about it.

    HMRC is more crooked than any dodgy accountant.

    1. LewisCowles1986

      Re: This stinks...

      but less useful ;)

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: This stinks...

      Yeah, run a Ponzi scheme for a few hundred million and you go to jail. Run a Ponzi scheme for an major economic power [stop laughing] and they give you a title.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to see here...

    On the other hand, something really stinks! Could be about cloud / server-desktop tender favoritism. But also could be much worse. Consider that in this new era of Tech Dystopia we find ourselves in, anything is possible.

    To see what I mean this is worth a read. Mostly concerns Facebook/Google, but with M$ in on the big-slurp-game, what else is new in privacy nightmares:

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product

    At the very least HMRC and M$ could work-in some kind of tax-spying / offshore-money-slurp layer into Windows-10 to catch out tax cheats etc... Not that I'm against the idea in principle and for fairness... But hold on a second...

  7. Redstone
    Meh

    I can see it from her point of view...

    Government IT projects are something of a poison chalice. If, by some miracle against all the odds you produce a working system somewhere close to on-time and only a bit over budget, there's no glory in it. Why not keep your real job open?

    Mind you, this state of affairs is a pretty sad place to find our govt. IT

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: I can see it from her point of view...

      Mind you, this state of affairs is a pretty sad place to find our govt. IT ..... Redstone

      A place and space delivered to the nation, and other nations too, by intellectually bankrupt politicised leaderships, Redstone, dependent upon crass and crashing media systems for survival. Such then guarantees always playing catch up to novel unusual events/irregular and unconventional meme plays at their work in alternative fields of endeavour which discover ....... well, Immaculate Proprietary Intellectual Property Source Wells are AIMines you will have great difficulty believing are freely available and not nearly as rare as petrified competition and perverse opposition would rather it be.

      Or do you deny and disagree that such is the true way of such things?

      Thought for the Day on the 0Day ...... "The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks." ― Christopher Hitchens

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why not keep your real job open?"

      You can keep your real job and refuse the other one. Even if you get paid £180,000 for doing very little.

      Then someone complains why people complain about "elites".... if I had to work for the government while being still employed by my actual company, I'm sure my company will sell me for £180,000 - and I'll just see a fraction of that.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No corruption here, nothing to see, move along please...

    Stinks more than a rotting sheep carcass on a truck at the border of Turkey.

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    £180,000 per annum role

    I assume that this salary will be reduced pro rata to take account of the work that she can't do because it involves Microsoft in some way?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: £180,000 per annum role

      So we will be supplying her coffee and nothing else?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: £180,000 per annum role

        As long as it's not from a coffee machine running some form of embedded windows, she won't be able to stipulate any of the options.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is great, can we get a Google exec to oversee the IPB? Maybe a Facebook exec for the government citizen portal?

    Lets just privatise the Government, I'm sure we could find a company to run it more efficiently.

    1. ScottishYorkshireMan

      Thought it already was? Those guys running it get sweetheart tax deals and take morons to sporting events.

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Devil

        Yes, but a Facebook exec could run the General Register Office directly out of FB profiles (there's a good chance after all people keep them much more up-to-date themselves), and issue passports, without a FB profile you can't get one!

        Or Google will be happy to run schools directly, for example, and keep all the health records. The sky is the ceiling!

    2. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "Lets just privatise the Government"

      You're about 40 years late to that party.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      May could replace the cabinet with Alexa...might get less dissent...

  11. John70

    What is it with "Digital"?

    What is it with sticking "Digital" into job titles and department names?

    Is it non-IT people using buzz-words to make them think they know what they talking about instead of understanding what digital actually means?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is it with "Digital"?

      "Digital" has a specific meaning within HMRC, denoting that the CIO also has responsibility for delivery of the new digital taxation systems.

      Remember, HMRC is a pretty retro organisation in places. Only a couple of years ago any mail you sent to them was forwarded to a central mail sorting facility whereupon it was physically re-posted to whichever department was processing it whereupon they would then scan it (usually in some unreadable image format) into their local case management process (usually some godforsaken always-full windows file share).

      Likewise there were (and still are) plenty of processes that involve physically handling bits of paper. That's what they mean when they say "digital" i.e. not physical.

  12. MMR

    Ha!

    That's like putting a fox in charge of a chickencoop.

    Or a bear overlooking a beehive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bear overlooking a beehive? Jacky Wright certainly likes her Buzzwords...

      Jacky Wright certainly likes her Buzzwords, that's for sure (watching clips of her on youtube).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sf1lCarFotk

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQBtSKUDj3k

      Boy, the bullshit meter is in overdrive here.

      Pink Cloud? (Female's implementing cloud infrastructure) - FFS, it reads like a script of an episode of W1A.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bear overlooking a beehive? Jacky Wright certainly likes her Buzzwords...

        Struggling to watch without getting angry. Just fing talk normally and cut the business BULLSHIT, then more people might respect you more. Business bullshit annoys me, probably why I'll never become a manager.

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Bear overlooking a beehive? Jacky Wright certainly likes her Buzzwords...

        Jacky certainly knows her Onions about Virtual Communication.

        Perhaps she could entertain Alien SeeScapes. Introduce and Provide Info to the Masses on that which is Now and for Quality Quantum Systems, Available.

        Is AI Script Needed and Readily Available to Control Commandeering Commanders/NEUKlearer Kids in the Hood?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bear overlooking a beehive? Jacky Wright certainly likes her Buzzwords...

        Hey it's Diane Abott's little sister - are they equally numerate?

  13. Chris G Silver badge

    National security

    Shirley running all of or much of the UK's tax system on a foreign OS that is known to phone home a great deal is a national security risk ( In the vein of US vs Kaspersky)? Or does MS promise not to do anything naughty with whatever it slurps from HMRC?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: National security

      "Shirley running all of or much of the UK's tax system on a foreign OS that is known to phone home a great deal"

      That's only in the consumer Windows versions, not the enterprise and server versions. (Those can send error reports if desired to Microsoft but it's centrally controllable.)

      1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

        Re: National security

        Although I have to wonder if reports on the applications your firm is using might be turned to Microsoft's advantage one way or another. Any insight is useful when the salesman comes to call.

      2. John Sanders
        Windows

        Re: National security

        >> That's only in the consumer Windows versions

        Son, I have this wonderful "London Bridge" to sell you here, look, cheap, cheap, nice and shiny, have I mentioned it is cheap?.

        I'm absolutely sure anyone in the USA's state department can order these "enterprise editions" have "accidentally" activated the siphon if the need arises.

        Windows has always been as transparent as a muddy swamp.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: National security

          The fine folks in Arizona finally realized that London Bridge wasn't a money maker? Took 'em long enough.

  14. Red Bren
    Pirate

    Recusal

    JW (to public): "I will recuse myself from any decision involving Microsoft."

    JW (to underling): "It's almost time for your performance review. How are getting on with that thing I'm recused from?"

  15. Halfmad

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot talk about Microsoft..

    However I would like to say how beautiful this building is, I mean those victorian WINDOWS are stunning, absolutely trustworthy and secure, absolutely those Windows are TEN out of TEN.

  16. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The 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.

    How is this even possible, how can somebody be hired as a civil servant while still being on the books of a large foreign corporation ? How is this even possible ?

    Now, consider for one second, the person in question is a corporate vice president of said foreign corporation ...

  17. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge
    Linux

    The Elop solution

    Presumably this ends with Microsoft buying out HMRC and then dismantling it, saying tax isn't part of its core business, something everyone except the person receiving the brown envelope in Cayman knows.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least....

    ...they aren't looking at Google Apps for Work. Microsoft licencing will be cheaper for them as they are local government and Microsoft tend to drop the cost of migration to Office 365 as part of their deal.

    Anyway. Whats to say (and I'm not saying she will, this is hypothetical) she doesn't "invite" "mates" (directors in charge of getting the contracts) around for "dinner" and they then discuss the "Book Club" they are going to start up (the possible Microsoft procurements on going at work) and then she "suggests what books they read that week" (what Microsoft contracts to pick). They'll be no record of said talks at the "Book Club" and no one would be able to prove otherwise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least....

      "At least....

      ...they aren't looking at Google Apps for Work."

      Presumably they would also need features like DRM that can actually work on a private network and not rely on web link ACLs to Google's cloud...

  19. Archaon
    FAIL

    What?

    So they've employed someone in a well paid, top dog IT management position with a 2 year contract who now can't make decisions that relate to client devices (Desktop, Laptop, Mobile), software (Office, IaaS, PaaS etc) and the majority of servers and storage (Windows Server, Cloud).

    I mean, there is actually a lot left for an organisation of that size, but methinks perhaps not £180k worth when I'm sure anyone without the MS link would have to deal with it all for the same package?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What?

      Frankly the only meaty decisions involving MS that would be made at the CDIO level are whether or not to use Azure (i.e. vs AWS vs UKCloud). Everything else is either handled through a framework agreement, delegated to CabO or such a non-decision that it wouldn't hit her desk.

      MS are in no way, shape or form the "majority of servers and storage". Client devices, certainly, but that's the same as every organisation the planet. Everything on the back end is run on Linux or some form of Unix.

      Now if this were an Oracle or SAS or SAP exec they'd recruited you'd have a point.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What?

        MS are in no way, shape or form the "majority of servers and storage".

        So Aspire has finally(?) migrated the thousands of NT/W2K/W2k3 servers (both physical and virtual)...

        Another story that would be of interest here, but not the mainstream media.

        Also are you suggesting HMC aren't using G-Cloud (aka Azure for government) users...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What?

          Those thousands of windows servers (mostly hosting CAFs and other similar nonsense) are outnumbered 5 to 1 by non-windows boxen. 100:1 or more if you go by business value or capacity or criticality etc. etc. They're commodity background stuff that every business has, not mission-critical strategic delivery pieces, which is what CDIO (the person) looks after.

          And yes, HMRC's use of Azure is not substantial, as it is only rated to OFFICIAL so can't do much.

          Azure should not be confused with G-cloud, which is a purchasing framework run by CabO and avoided by most of the rest of central government.

  20. Reader2435

    HMRC web-crash

    I had the great misfortune to need to use the HMRC site last week. I've never seen such an absolute train-crash of a website. The form I wanted required login... to get to a public *form*, not any data. The login page forwarded not to the form that the link had promised but to a 403 Access error... for a form!

    The complaints form was public but you had to already have a valid complaint reference before you could register a complaint... no, I kid you not!

    The online support chat service was staffed by someone who could not (or would not) use any capital letters or punctuation and knew less about their own job than they did about English.

    Just incredible. I'm no fan of M$ but if they were allowed to sneak their grubby paws into the till at least we might get a working system out of it...

  21. colinb

    Illeism

    She seems to talk about herself in the third person.

    e.g. from an Interview with CIO "Her answer is disarmingly simple. "That's who Jacky is.""

    So has yet to fully grasp the use of "I" and "me" or perhaps is projecting a fake persona.

    Her previous role seemed to be guiding Teams on what they already know about Enterprise Software features.

    She will be lucky to move the needle on any projects in 24 months.

  22. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Joke

    "The department can assure you that the fact that the CIO came from Microsoft has nothing whatever to do with the HMRC's choice of sole IT hardware and software supplier," said their new spokesman, Clippy.

  23. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Hat Eating Territory...:-)

    She will be lucky to move the needle on any projects in 24 months. ... colinb

  24. Martin Summers Silver badge

    Nokia

    Reminds me of when Elop went to 'work' at Nokia. Are HMRC becoming a division of Microsoft in 2 years time then?

  25. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    HMRC

    Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Chums

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. pleb

    How is it that simple? I don't take decisons about using Microsoft, only about using Libre Office? Etc.

  28. sitta_europea

    "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."

    If I did something like that, would they give me a job for 180,000 per year?

    Or would they just throw me in jail?

  29. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Sabbatical

    They should have offered the job to the Prime Minister - most probably Mrs May would jump at the opportunity to take a 2 year sabbatical right now and have an increase in pay at the same time. As for being a suitable candidate for the job, I am sure she'll be more effective as she wouldn't have to recuse herself every time Microsoft is mentioned

  30. Milton Silver badge

    Sabbatical

    A sabbatical which Microsoft reluctantly agreed to out of the charitable goodness of its warm heart ...

    ... Not because it's looking for ways to infect more and more clueless organisations with its bloatware.

    Redmond must be awash with tears of laughter at the pathetic naivete of HMRC.

  31. Duffy Moon
    Joke

    Maybe she'll save HMRC some money

    Presumably she still gets a staff discount?

  32. RonWheeler

    Grey areas

    Trouble is, there are a lot of greay areas where the damage could already have been done. Hypothetically - I have no evidence either way. What if for example Google came in offering a truly fantasitc G-drive price offering a year ago but it got pushed back 24 months till after the MS negotiations. Where OneDrive type stuff will probably become part of the bundle on the table.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will They Ever Learn?

    Government departments seem expert at hiring IT leaders who are either:

    - Academically overqualified -> no real use when s**t happens

    - Great corporate project managers -> no accountability, ever

    - Candidates with glaring conflicts of interest -> no impartiality and planning their exit

    If in doubt, pick a department and check the IT leaders background and what job they picked up after they completed their 2-3 year posting.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Five or ten years ago, here in Canada, some Microsoft exec., took a key role at Canada Revenue Agency, I think it was, for several years. It appears that person was in the position long enough to ensure the MS was the key provider for a lot of software that many thought could have been done for less and more reliably without them.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was it something I said?

    No, I don't think people like that read The Register, but just leave me 5 minutes with the illusion that I did make someone realise with my post that there are people out there who *know*, and are still watching.

    OK, back to normal life.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm fairly cynical, yet, the blatant graft and corruption in politics still shocks me.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm fairly cynical, yet, the blatant graft and corruption in politics still shocks me.

    You ain't seen nothing yet. Join the military, that will recalibrate your cynicism to either new heights or depressing depths, take your pick. Worse, the two (politics/military) feed off each other.

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