HMRC picks boss for new transformation unit

Written by Sam Trendall on 24 November 2020 in News

Joanna Rowland to take on DG-level post

HMRC headquarters in central London     Credit: Gary Todd/Public domain

HM Revenue and Customs has named Joanna Rowland as director general of its newly created Transformation Business Group.

Rowland previously held another director general post leading the tax agency’s coronavirus response work – the central pillar of which is the furlough scheme. Her new appointment – which was signed off by the prime minister Boris Johnson and cabinet secretary Simon Case – represents a “substantive promotion”, HMRC said.

The transformation unit will assume responsibility for “directly delivering our major cross-cutting programmes, while ensuring collaboration across HMRC’s other business groups”. Its portfolio of projects will initially comprise coronavirus-response initiatives and the ongoing rollout of the Making Tax Digital initiative.

HMRC’s executive committee “will work with senior change leads across the department to agree which [other] programmes require the dedicated oversight of this new group”.

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For each project under its watch, the Transformation Business Group will be asked to “lay out in a clear multi-year roadmap the combination of policy, process, people and IT changes” required for successful delivery.

The unit will also assume leadership of HMRC’s project delivery profession. This will include “setting standards and ensuring project professionals are trained, developed and perform to those standards”.

Rowland, who will be based at HMRC’s offices in Portsmouth, said: “Over the last few months, HMRC has rightly won plaudits for the work we have done to support customers and the UK economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been proud to lead our response and thrilled to see the can-do attitude of our people that has helped us achieve so much in such a short period of time. I want to carry this energy forward into the longer-term transformation of our department to meet the challenges ahead as we recover and reshape our economy in the post-Brexit world and create a world-leading digital tax and customs authority.”

The transformation chief has been with HMRC for a little over four years and has previously led projects in the Making Tax Digital programme, as well the department’s Brexit work. Prior to joining the tax agency, she spent two years at the Ministry of Justice, followed by a short spell at the then Department of Culture, Media and Sport – from which she joined HMRC in September 2016.

Rowland will report to Angela MacDonald who in July was appointed as HMRC’s deputy chief executive and second permanent secretary. 

“I’m delighted to announce Jo’s appointment, which is critical for delivering the support our customers need in these exceptionally busy and challenging times and will be key in helping us to build trust in our administration of tax and customs,” MacDonald said. “Jo has done an incredible job leading the delivery of the Covid-19 support schemes over the past few months and has substantial previous experience in leading transformation programmes across government.”


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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