G-Cloud 'yet to take off in local government'

The government’s G-Cloud framework is yet to achieve any real traction in local government, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) figures.

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The government’s G-Cloud framework is yet to achieve any real traction in local government, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) figures.

Freedom of Information (FoI) responses from 26 country councils show that of the £440 million they spent on IT last year, just £385,000 was through the CloudStore, meaning that G-Cloud spending accounted for just 0.08 percent of their collective IT budgets.

The research, conducted by IT company Bull, confirms the scale of the challenge facing the government in its efforts to encourage the adoption of the framework across the public sector, particularly among councils.

G-Cloud was established in 2012 with a focus on encouraging the adoption of commodity, cloud-based IT solutions across the UK public sector.

Despite spending an average of £17 million per year each, just eight of the 26 councils bought services through the CloudStore last year, with the 12 purchases ranging from £1,511 to £154,911.

As it stands, only 31 councils in the UK have spent more than £50,000 in total via G-Cloud.

The two biggest local authority spenders on G-Cloud so far are Hounslow Council, which has channelled £2.4 million through the framework so far, and Bristol City Council, which has spent £1.5 million through the CloudStore.

Andrew Carr, Bull’s UK & Ireland CEO, blamed a combination of complex procurement rules, long-term vendor lock-in and a lack of inhouse commercial experience.

He said: “There are too many barriers to uptake. The red tape surrounding public sector procurement means councils are often tied into long-term contracts with large enterprise suppliers and therefore are not flexible enough to take on such a major transformational change.

“Also, public sector staff often lack experience in procurement, expertise in the solutions themselves, and critically the drive to disrupt the status quo.”

“This is reflected in the results so far achieved by the G-Cloud which highlight that although the service is now two years old, most UK councils have not procured any services from it. County councils either don’t understand the potential benefits of the G-Cloud or they are just simply underwhelmed by it altogether.”

The G-Cloud team have previously acknowledged the issues surrounding local government. In a blog post in February, director Tony Singleton highlighted research which found that almost 90 percent of local authorities have not heard of G-Cloud.

He said that the team are “speaking to buyers to find out how we can communicate with them better and to really get to the bottom of their concerns about using G-Cloud and then address those issues head on."

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “G-Cloud has come a long way in a short time, with total G-Cloud spend across the public sector reaching £175 million in April 2014, and 60 percent of this with SMEs.

“Today, more councils than ever before are using cloud services because of the benefits they bring. However, we know more needs to be done to raise awareness of its potential and encourage use. Only then can organisations benefit from access to the most innovative, cost-effective solutions by a wide range of suppliers and pass these savings on to the taxpayer.

“For our part, we will continue improving G-Cloud and CloudStore making it easier for suppliers and buyers to use.”

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