HMRC project budget on GOV.UK transition revealed
Access via a freedom of information (FOI) request to the actual and budgeted costs of the project to move HMRC's old website to GOV.UK raises some questions about the claimed savings of the transition.
According to the figures provided by HMRC, the budgeted costs in May 2014 for elements of the transition that weren't "business as usual" work were estimated at £942,000.
But actual costs as at the end of the project in March 2015 are expected to be £40,000 more.
Actual costs were provided under FOI up to December 2014 for HMRC-invoiced figures and did not include Government Digital Service (GDS) costs unless specifically invoiced to the Revenue. The further costs to March 2015 were ongoing costs above normal activities up to project closure.
Budgeted and actual figures spent on the project were:
£153,000 on three permanent members of staff: head of web transition, senior project manager and project support.
£60,000 budgeted for contractors to design the web content; £35,000 was spent.
Travel and subsistence costs for staff were £50,000 less than the £105,000 budgeted for.
Budgeted costs for IT costs, including content changes, IT equipment for mobile working, network/infrastructure information requests and API development were £574,000.
The actual IT amounted to £737,000 - £640,000 by the end of December, with a further £97,000 to be invoiced by March. This included a oneoff £500,000 payment to GDS, for "HMRC specific related migration and content design work" which, according to the FOI, wasn't budgeted for.
In addition, around £50,000 was budgeted for web content migration training, but only £2,000 was actually spent on this.
The government claimed HMRC’s transition from "switching off old systems" will save £164,000 in its first year up to April 2016.
After this the savings are expected to rise to £202,000 in each year thereafter - a 22% saving on non staff-related web hosting costs in 2014/15. This is against an "assumed 15% saving Cabinet Office expected would be made".
This means it may take HMRC until around 2020 to recoup the total cost of the project.
In September 2013, web transition work was being undertaken by HMRC as part of its business as usual activities.
Many AccountingWEB members remain concerned about the quality of content on the GOV.UK website.
Most of the transition of the non-technical content was done by the GDS, and fact checked by HMRC subject experts. However the manuals, tax tables and more technical guidance has just started to be moved over and has had to be written by HMRC tax experts in a new format.
AccountingWEB has raised the question of whether relying on GDS rather than contractors may have contributed to the content quality issues flagged up by our members. HMRC has yet to comment on the FOI. Its response is expected and it will be featured in a later article.