Government department HMRC has poached Vodafone’s chief information officer (CIO) as its new head of IT.
Mark Dearnley (left) will join HMRC in October as its CIO, taking control of a £500m-a-year IT operation that is used by 45 million individuals, 4.8 million businesses and 65,000 HMRC employees, the department said.
Dearnley will oversee the delivery of HMRC’s £200m digitisation programme and “accelerating the planned delivery of online services for all taxpayers”, as well as leading HMRC’s physical, personnel and information security.
The incoming HMRC chief had previously been CIO of Vodafone since 2010, with responsibility for IT that ultimately supported 19 million customers. Within this role he won awards and helped overhaul Vodafone’s business-critical information systems.
He also worked for Boots, helping set up Boots.com, has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Brunel University and is a fellow of both the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the British Computer Society.
Despite his success in the private sector, Dearnley said the lure of government IT proved too tempting. “No private business in the UK can match the customer base, scale or complexity of HMRC, which makes this role irresistible. I am thrilled to have been appointed and can’t wait to get started,” he said.
The government was delighted with its coup, with David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, saying the appointment proved the government could attract top IT staff, especially in the wake of some high-profile departures from public to private offices in recent years.
“It is an indication of the scale and seriousness of the government’s digital ambition that one of the UK’s most experienced CIOs is leaving the private sector to take on this major role,” he said.
“Dearnley’s appointment to HMRC is evidence that government has the cutting-edge challenges that can attract the very best leaders in IT to public service.”
The appointment comes after previous CIO Phil Pavitt stepped down late last year for a role at insurance giant Aviva.
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