HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plans to go to market for a “digital notebook application” as it continues efforts to digitalise its services.
The application, to run on Microsoft SurfacePro’s and mobile phones, will be used by the fraud investigation division in the field.
Officers will use the application collect evidence in relation to civil and criminal investigations. As such it needs to be able to take written notes and receive witness signatures. To ensure correct record keeping the application must be able to use GPS technology to mark all entries with a location and date/time stamps. The application must also be able to take and store photographs, as well as record in audio and video.
HMCR has not put a price on the potential contract and at this stage is merely seeking pre-market engagement, putting a “prior information notice” out on a European tenders page in order to help it assess the options. A significant technical challenge for the application provider will be to ensure that the application can facilitate accurate speech-to-text services across multiple languages.
Once files have been saved and uploaded HRMC require the application to initiate a ‘lock’ feature that stops anyone from being able to edit the data after it has been recorded.Not only must the application run on Microsoft SurfacePro’s and mobile phones, it also has to integrate with HMRC’s existing IT systems and infrastructure.
HMRC expects the application to be able to work offline. It says it aims to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.
HMRC Digital Notebook Call To Market
The contract seems to be more of an exploratory venture at this point as the HMRC notes in its contract notice that: “This is to alert interested parties that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is considering procurement options to meet its needs of a digital notebook application.”
“In addition to raising awareness of potential procurement activity, this notice is to facilitate an electronic market engagement exercise so HMRC can test the market.”
As the application is destined to be used by HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service it must adhere to the UK’s evidential standards as the information recorded has to be admissible as evidence into UK courts.
HRMC comment in the notice that: “HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS) is responsible for the department’s investigations to protect funding for UK public services. We embrace future ways of working and technology, to enable our staff to work efficiently and effectively.”