A group of IT suppliers have demanded changes to the G-Cloud programme ahead of the launch of the fifth iteration next month.
An open letter signed by 14 suppliers on the cloud procurement framework was sent to Government Digital Service (GDS) chief operating officer Tony Singleton on 9th January recommending a series of changes to be made with the G-Cloud 5 launch, and has now been made public. The letter was also signed by Westminster City Council, a customer of G-Cloud.
G-Cloud was originally introduced in May 2013 in a bid to level the playing field of government IT procurement, allowing SMEs to compete against large systems integrators for cloud service contracts.
However uptake since launch of the scheme has been slow, with the most recent figures showing that a total of just £78 million has been spent through the framework – a small fraction of the overall government IT expenditure.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion in London today, organisations behind the open letter highlighted a number of improvements the group were calling for.
According to Elizabeth Vega, CEO of systems integrator Informed Solutions, more quality control is required to ensure that the 13,000 services on the CloudStore, the G-Cloud online store, actually do what they advertise to do.
“At the moment it is a bit of a ‘buyer beware’ situation. Sellers self-publish what they offer, they show a case study, and that is it,” she said, adding that more services should be pre-vetted by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) or GDS.
Improvements to the CloudStore itself were also targeted in order to make it more user-friendly, with a revamp to make the site more like that of popular online retailers. This could also help improve vetting of services by highlighting buyer feedback, according to Marek Baldy, business development director at Konetic.
“With Amazon you start to get consumer reports, you start to get some confidence in the buyers, you get due diligence that is user generated,” he said.
Skyscape CTO Simon Hansford said a major problem is that buyers sometimes have unrealistic expectations from suppliers, with many continuing to approach contracts with SME service providers in the same manner as they do with large system integrators.
“The biggest problem is education: the market is not educated well enough to understand the benefits and the buying mechanism. So it is incumbent on all of us [to improve this], that is how we will get the market bigger.”
Other problems cited were upcoming changes to the Government Security Classification Policy (GPMS) due in April, with confusion over how these will combine with the existing Pan Government Accreditation (PGA) scheme, and a lack of transparency over the ‘long-listing’ process to give suppliers better foresight of prospective deals.
The length of contracts was also criticised, with suppliers recommending that they be lengthened to three years, echoing similar complaints in the past.
The companies signing the letter were Skyscape, Azeus UK, Bird and Bird, Datatank, Huddle, Informed Soltuions, Konetic, Lockheed Martin, MDS Technologies, Osborne Clarke, Roc Technologies, SFW, The Agile Consultancy, Vysionics, as well as Westminster Council.
A full copy of the letter can be found on Skyscape’s website.