G-Cloud is failing to make it easier for public sector organisations to procure or implement cloud computing services because it lacks transparency, according to Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).
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The industry body has called on the government to focus on transparency to improve G-Cloud’s performance. Its warnings come just days after the government’s project watchdog, the Major Projects Authority (MPA), labelled the G-Cloud programme "amber/red".
Amber/red status suggests doubt over whether the project will be delivered successfully, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. It also means urgent action is needed to address these risks.
“G-Cloud lacks the single ingredient that must underpin every procurement service – transparency,” said CIF chief executive Alex Hilton.
Although G-Cloud is widely considered to be a success, saving public sector bodies more than £120 million, the project was given a risk rating by the MPA. One reason for this could be G-Cloud’s move to the Government Digital Service (GDS).
The MPA’s comment on the rating read: “At the time when the project moved to business as usual [within GDS], there were three areas of concern: the programme was not funded; the programme was under-resourced; and there was not an agreed benefits realisation methodology. All of these were addressed.
“During the transition, steps were being put in place to meet the original objectives of the project and realise the benefits.”
Responding to the MPA’s assessment of the G-Cloud programme, CIF questioned what the programme had achieved since its launch in 2011.
"From its inception, G-Cloud held a great deal of promise and we fundamentally support a consistent approach to cloud procurement by government,” said Hilton.
“The government’s stated aspiration is for half of central procurement to be through SMEs, but this does not seem to be following through to local authorities.”
Cloud adoption rates
CIF’s latest research on the UK market indicated that cloud adoption rates in the public sector are on a par with those in the private sector – both 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,” added Hilton.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by an IT supplier has revealed that less than 1% of the £440m spent on IT by 26 county councils was invested in services on the G-Cloud public sector app store.
According to the FOI response, just £385,000 was spent on G-Cloud by local councils in the latest financial year – 0.87% of the total spend of £440m. Only 12 separate services were acquired on G-Cloud by county councils.
While the European Commission is driving its Digital Agenda for Europe, the UK government does not currently subscribe to any certification schemes, said CIF.
“We believe it should be offering more assistance and guidance in the selection of suitable and trustworthy cloud providers,” said Hilton.
The industry body’s code of practice is a certification model for cloud procurement services, Hilton added. “We encourage G-Cloud providers to promote it to their local authority customers to further assure their cloud credentials.”