HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has continued to splash out more than £700m a year on its Aspire outsourcing contract.
Capgemini and Fujitsu are the lead contractors of the mega deal, which was due to end in 2017. Capgemini then signed an agreement on the phased transition of the Aspire contract, which would see it continue as a strategic supplier, particularly for application development and management services until June 2020.
HMRC is currently in a transitionary period of exiting the Aspire contract. It confirmed via a Freedom of Information request that £732m was paid to Aspire suppliers in 2014/15, and that £724m was paid to the suppliers in 2015/16.
HMRC has been spending a similar amount each year on Aspire since its inception.
Below are the fees paid over the last eight years:
- 2008/09 - £777.1m
- 2009/10 - £728.9m
- 2010/11 - £757.8m
- 2011/12 - £735.5m
- 2012/13 - £783m
- 2013/14 - £772m
- 2014/15 - £732m
- 2015/16 - £724m
HMRC spent £7.9bn on Aspire from July 2004 to March 2014. It is likely to smash the £10bn mark by the end of 2017. For years, the contract has taken up 84 per cent of the department's annual ICT budget.
The outsourcing of HMRC's IT dates back well before 2004: Capgemini took over an outsourcing arrangement between HMRC and EDS that ran from 1994 to 2004. The new deal was meant to repair the failures that had occurred before, but has instead been regarded as little better.
In response, the department has painstakingly drawn-up plans to break the Aspire contract into smaller, hopefully more managable deals.
Under its phased-exit plan for Aspire, HMRC has claimed that many of the contracts put out for tender will be of interest to smaller and medium-sized companies, as well as the larger providers.
However, in July last year MPs said they were concerned that HMRC would struggle to integrate different services from different providers, and urged it to ensure that the leadership remain intact.
In August, the department's chief digital and information officer (CDIO) Mark Dearnley left the organisation. Before he left he warned that HMRC would not make any savings until at least 2020.
Along with Capgemini, Accenture also had its Aspire contract extended until 2020. The price that the two companies were able to extract in return for the contract extensions has yet to be revealed.
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