HMRC have issued a statement on their work to replace CHIEF.
The current UK Customs IT system CHIEF processes import and export declarations. CHIEF, and the replacement CDS, are a cornerstone of UK international trade and the project to deliver “son of CHIEF” is in the spotlight as Brexit looms.
Customs will replace the ageing CHIEF system with CDS (Customs Declaration System) by January 2019. The National Audit Office have expressed numerous concerns and highlighted risks about the delivery of the project :-
- Any slippage from January 2019 will run into unknown Brexit changes in March 2019.
- Software integration challenges between the new system and existing HMRC systems.
- Unproven design for the volume of declarations the UK expects to process.
- Lack of knowledge about how traders who today only trade with the EU (ie not using CHIEF) will interact with CDS.
- Scale of HMRC skilled staff vacancies within the project.
The report by the National Audit Office makes clear there is little flexibility in the CDS delivery plan as it stands today. That is without the added unknowns of the Customs regulations and processing requirements post-Brexit. Customs say they are aware of risks.
We see the perfect storm gathering of a major government IT upgrade running late, over budget and only somewhat fit-for-purpose in the light of Brexit changes.
Critically, we must add in the mix the potential of 180,000 ‘new’ traders who only operate in Europe today and not engaged. This user group are unfamiliar with the need for declarations, likely unprepared or aware, have no IT system,provider or expertise and may well need their goods processing on a brand new IT system CDS. This could get very interesting. Hold tight.