Suppliers call for improvements to G-Cloud framework

A group of 15 suppliers have submitted an open letter to the Government Digital Service outlining possible improvements to the next iteration of G-Cloud

A group of 15 suppliers have submitted an open letter to the Government Digital Service (GDS) outlining possible improvements to the next iteration of G-Cloud.

The letter outlines challenges facing suppliers on the G-Cloud framework, including the short length of contracts, the transparency of the CloudStore, the definition of cloud services, as well as education around the framework and security accreditation.

Simon Hansford, CTO of Skyscape Cloud Services – the company which drafted the letter – said at a roundtable in London this morning that the firm had contacted 80 suppliers regarding writing a letter and received responses from 55-60. But only 15 signed the final letter. Hansford said many SMEs did not want to put their name on the letter which was sent to GDS at the beginning of this month.

The fifth version of the framework, G-Cloud 5, is due to be announced in February, and the roundtable attendees agreed that a delay to the framework would be acceptable if improvements were made to “get G-Cloud right”.

The group called for the two-year contract term to be called off, arguing that procurement is not cheap and changes to lengthen contract terms would be welcomed.

Elizabeth Vega, CEO of Informed Solutions, said: “Why can’t we have a three-year contract, as long as we behave and perform?” She also said it is currently difficult for SMEs to acquire capital from banks against contracts which are so short.

Richard Clarke, head of public sector EMEA at Huddle, argued that most business cases are three-year contracts, so increasing the length would improve the situation for government bodies wishing to procure services, as they would not be met by price increases in between re-signing contracts.

The group also called for changes to the CloudStore to include options to rate services and also to suggest related purchases, in a similar way to online shopping with Amazon.

Marek Baldy, business development director at Konetic, compared G-Cloud to eBay, where the buyer takes on a certain amount of risk when purchasing, whereas buyers have much more confidence in Amazon.

“Procurement services should provide due diligence for suppliers,” he said.

Baldy also noted that people who work in procurement are generally not part of the younger "search generation", but as that generation moves on there will be a massive cultural shift as the younger generation would understand the tool.

He also suggested government should have the ability to rate services with a "like" button to help improve the marketplace.

Skyscape's Hansford said there used to be evangelists talking to government who would be able to explain G-Cloud policies, but they seem to have disappeared. Education is the key to simplifying the marketplace, he said.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “We welcome the positive remarks about G-Cloud, which has come a long way in a short time. Much remains to be done to embed G-Cloud so that organisations across the public sector – and ultimately the taxpayer – benefit from access to the most innovative, cost-effective solutions offered by the widest range of suppliers.

“We are always looking for feedback from suppliers and customers, both positive and negative, and we continue to make improvements to G-Cloud and CloudStore with each new iteration of the framework.”

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