Councils spent less than 1% of IT budget on G-Cloud

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, says IT supplier

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made 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.

County councils are spending vast amounts on supporting legacy systems but do not believe they are still using legacy systems, according to Bull Information Systems, which made the FOI request.

According to the response to the FOI request, £385,000 was spent on G-Cloud in the most recent financial year. This was 0.87% of the total spend of £440m. Only 12 separate services were acquired on G-Cloud by county councils.

The total IT spending figure included the cost of more than 3,200 staff, support services and outsourcing, as well as software and hardware systems.

The FOI request asked if councils use legacy systems, which it defined as "an information system based on outdated technologies but is still critical to day-to-day operations". But councils had a different view of what was a legacy system.  

“[We] have not identified any specific systems that we consider to be based on ‘outdated’ technologies. In terms of hardware, we have some older equipment but we do not class it as outdated as it is still viable to run, and would only class something as outdated when running costs exceed replacement costs,” said one council.

Andrew Carr, CEO of Bull UK & Ireland, said: “It’s worrying that our research reveals that a number of councils have no handle on how much they spend on legacy systems and that some don’t see this as an important issue.”

Of the 26 county councils, only Dorset (2), East Sussex (2), Kent (1), Norfolk (1), Nottinghamshire (2), Oxfordshire (1), Staffordshire (1) and Warwickshire (2) bought services on G-Cloud.

According to G-Cloud and digital commercial programme director Tony Singleton, public sector organisations have saved over £120m buying services through the G-Cloud framework. In a blog post, Singleton claimed organisations are seeing average savings of around 50% by using G-Cloud.

However, local government IT user group Socitm said the Bull research showed a "poor understanding of how local councils procure and deploy IT". 

Socitm acknowledged that local government is making less use of the G-cloud framework than its central government counterparts, but said, "That is partly because the G-Cloud was established primarily to address problems with central government IT procurement and deployment practice."

"Bull’s figures suggest that by not using G-Cloud, councils are forgoing savings from using cloud services. This overlooks the fact that G-Cloud is a procurement framework, not a 'cloud' in the sense generally understood of a service whereby software can be rented and hosted off site," added Socitm. 

"Consequently low use of G-Cloud does not correlate with low use of cloud services, and indeed many councils are using cloud services from via other procurement frameworks or procured directly from vendors like Google."

Martin Ferguson, head of policy at Socitm said, "G-Cloud is already a useful procurement framework. However it is still in its relative infancy, as is cost effective public cloud provision for use in councils more generally. What will make the G-Cloud increasingly attractive will be the flexibility to use it in ways which deliver best value and sustainable IT architectures fit for the future. 

"It is also the case that the biggest beneficiaries of cloud computing, and G-Cloud as a procurement vehicle, are likely to be the smaller public service organisations which were not covered in the FOI research carried out by Bull."

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