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June 4, 2014

G-Cloud ‘lacks the transparency’ to succeed

The government initiative fails to make it easier for public sector organisations to procure cloud services, says the Cloud Industry Forum.

By Duncan Macrae

Cloud computing authority Cloud Industry Forum says the UK Government’s G-Cloud initiative has failed due to a lack of transparency.

G-Cloud, launched in 2012, was supposed to ease procurement by public sector bodies in departments of the UK Government of commodity IT services that use cloud computing. Its aim was to cut £120m a year from the public sector IT bill by encouraging the public sector to purchase IT products and services through the government’s CloudStore digital marketplace.

But results of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by IT services company Bull Information Systems suggests that local councils have been ignoring G-Cloud, costing the taxpayers millions of pounds per year.

A total of 26 out of 27 UK county councils responded to the FoI, which showed that in the 2012-13 financial year the councils spent almost £440m on IT services (including staffing costs), but only £385,000 of that was spent through the government’s G-Cloud framework.

The Government’s Major Projects Authority ( MPA), which works to improve project performance for the taxpayer, has since given G-Cloud an ‘amber/red’ status due its flagging performance.

Now, the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) has questioned exactly what G-Cloud has really achieved since its launch. According to Alex Hilton, CIF’s CEO, G-Cloud lacks the single ingredient that must underpin every procurement service – transparency.

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He said: "Our latest research on the UK market indicates that cloud adoption rates in the public sector match those in the private sector, both standing at 69%, but this enthusiasm does not seem to have spread to local government, which simply hasn’t taken to G-Cloud as was predicted.

"From its inception, G-Cloud held a great deal of promise and we fundamentally support a consistent approach to cloud procurement by government. The government’s stated aspiration is for 25% of central procurement to be through SMEs, but this does not seem to be following through to local authorities."

The Cloud Industry Forum’s Code of Practice is a certification model for Cloud procurement services. The forum encourages G-Cloud providers to promote it to their local authority customers to further assure their Cloud credentials.

Hilton added: "Whilst the European Commission is driving it’s Digital Agenda for Europe the UK government doesn’t itself subscribe today to any certification schemes, we believe it should be offering more assistance and guidance in the selection of suitable and trustworthy cloud providers."

The Cloud Industry Forum was established in 2009 to provide transparency through certification to a Code of Practice for credible online Cloud service providers and to assist end users in determining core information necessary to enable them to adopt these services.

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