G-Cloud raises the ceiling again for government IT procurement

The fourth version of of G-Cloud - G4 - has gone live, aiming to provide more SMEs a chance to win government IT contracts

The fourth version of  the supplier framework UK government cloud – G-Cloud 4 (G4) – has gone live, aiming to provide more small and medium-sized enterprises the opportunity to win government IT contracts.

Supplier framework G4 went live after three months of the government opening the fourth iteration of the G-Cloud to accept tenders from existing suppliers and new providers.

G-Cloud, which allows the public sector to buy cloud-based digital services off-the-shelf, avoiding lock-in to expensive contracts with single suppliers, and encouraging cost-effective, solutions, has more than 1,000 suppliers including SMEs offering IT services to the public sector.

The fourth iteration, G4 attracted a record number of submissions from suppliers with about 1000 suppliers on the new framework, compared with 700 in the previous procurement, according to the Cabinet Office.

This takes the total number of suppliers with services in the CloudStore  catalogue to 1,186 – and 84% of these are SMEs.

CloudStore is an online marketplace listing IaaS, PaaS, SaaS services pre-approved by the government for the public sector to purchase. More than 250 suppliers are listed on the store, including large system integrators such as Atos, Capgemini, HP, IBM and Fujitsu and UK SMEs such as Memset.

In all, CloudStore now features more than 13,000 services. Cumulative sales from CloudStore broke the £50m barrier last month, with 58% of total spend of £53.5m having gone to SMEs, according to the government.

“Our reforms to government technology are designed to ensure the best possible service for users at the lowest cost for taxpayers. To make this possible we need a truly competitive marketplace. SMEs are a source of innovation and a crucial engine for growth. We will continue to knock down the barriers that have prevented them from winning public sector work in the past,” said Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.

“G-Cloud is a simpler, faster and cheaper way for the public sector to buy digital services. It allows companies of all sizes to benefit from our digital by default approach to government. I’m delighted that so many SMEs have won representation in this new iteration,” Maude added.

Earlier this year, the government also pledged to put at least 50% of all new IT spend through SMEs – double that of its previous target.

But SMEs have been sceptical. One government report showed that direct spending in the public sector on SMEs increased from £3bn in 2009-2010 to £4.5bn in 2012-2013 but represented just 10.5% of overall public sector spending – far from its 50% objective.

But Maude said: “We will continue to embed our ‘Cloud First’ principle in government and recommend it across the wider public sector.”

Meanwhile, G-Cloud director Tony Singleton said: “We are working to improve G-Cloud and the CloudStore, making it more straightforward and less expensive for suppliers wanting to join the marketplace and for public sector customers to purchase the technology they need.

G-Cloud 4 includes clearer instructions for new suppliers on how they can submit their services to the programme. Unlike previous iterations, G4 uses two systems for tender submissions. The first system -- Government Procurement Service (GPS) eSourcing suite – is for suppliers to respond to mandatory questions to meet procurement regulations.

And the second -- Government Digital Service (GDS) Service Submission Portal – involves a mandatory documentation upload feature so that suppliers do not fail compliance for non-submission of documents. This system will make the process of uploading documents to the CloudStore simple, according to the government.

“For G4, we have fed in valuable intelligence and opinions from buyers and suppliers. But the job of lowering barriers to participation and making the process as easy and open as possible goes on,” Singleton said.

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