‘Iacta alea est’
Unless you were hiding under a rock last week you may well have heard about fifty openings for ‘world-class’ talent to design, test and build digital services for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)—part of the expansion of the Government Digital Services (GDS) Team. I know you’ve seen it because my tweet was retweeted nine times. NINE TIMES! Here it is:
Your chance to bring HMRC into the 21st Century, right here in Newcastle: https://t.co/QQZD9gq0js (via @ukandrewtaylor)— Philip Poots (@pootsbook) January 28, 2014
That’s a record for me. Actually, now that I mention it, there was one tweet that got a few more, albeit from the @rubynortheast account:
UK Government using Ruby (@rails and @sinatra) for their new digital platform: http://t.co/NVM1xYFo— Ruby North East (@rubynortheast) February 1, 2012
If you notice the date, I’ve been interested in what the GDS have been doing for a while and it’s amazing to see how deeply and significantly they have challenged the prevailing model and culture of (failed) billion £ contracts and long-term vendor lock-ins. This from the job spec:
“We will be using modern technology and agile development methods, and release as much of our work as possible as open source software.”— Philip Poots (@pootsbook) January 28, 2014
Change is most certainly afoot. The range and number of jobs available at HMRC clearly indicate that the GDS have an audacious vision to replicate the success they have had with GOV.UK at HMRC (and I’m sure across all Government departments, but HMRC are first on the list). What’s even better for those of us in the North East is it’s right on our doorstep.
This evening I went along to the GDS/HMRC Recruitment Fair to offer some moral support to a friend who had expressed an interest in one of the positions but wasn’t up for going alone. I was also secretly hoping to infiltrate the Gift Aid arm of HMRC on behalf of Givey so that in the future we can do live Gift Aid verification. Of course I was also interested to meet some of the GDS team who had come up from London.
The evening started a little shakily, as a quick survey of the room revealed a lot of suits. I’m not normally one to judge on appearances, but let’s be honest, how many open source developers have you seen wearing pinstripes? We breathed a sigh of relief when we spotted a more casual crew in the corner and wandered over (we were right, product people!). I must say, it was very refreshing to hear representatives from a team within Government talking about:
I had a good chat with Ben Welby who is a business analyst at GDS and worked on GOV.UK. Then I got talking briefly to Etienne Pollard who led the GOV.UK team and is now Deputy Director for HMRC Transformation.
Etienne is looking for people just like us: those involved with web technologies, web services, with experience building consumer-focused products; developers who ‘get’ open source; the GitHub generation.
He was worried that because of the quick turnaround (applications close on Wednesday 12th February) and the perception of HMRC (who likes self-assessment?) many might be put off. I say this is your chance to make a difference, your opportunity to contribute significant change to the technical infrastructure underpinning the UK Government’s financial affairs—by doing what you love.
Apply. Be the transformation.
—2259, Wednesday 5th February 2014.