G-Cloud supplier blames lack of stability for poor government spend

G-Cloud supplier Databarracks calls for more stability and continuity, warning that lack of guidance and clarity is putting off local government

G-Cloud supplier Databarracks has called for more stability and continuity of the programme, warning that continuous changes, and a lack of guidance and clarity, is putting off local government authorities to procure IT services via the G-Cloud framework.

In June, a Freedom of Information request revealed that between 2012 and 2013, less than 1% of the £440m spent on IT by 26 county councils was done through G-Cloud’s online CloudStore.

The FOI request showed that £385,000 was spent on G-Cloud – 0.87% of the total spend of £440m.

“These figures suggested a big lack of enthusiasm from local government, but this is simply not the case,” said Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks.

Local government departments can’t be blamed for failing to keep up with G-Cloud, according to the G-Cloud supplier.

“Local government departments are finding themselves in an increasingly difficult position when it comes to managing their IT infrastructure. They’re constantly being told to ‘buy more from SMEs’ and to go ‘cloud first’. At the same time, they are also trying to keep up with the new G-Cloud initiatives that are introduced every six months. Keeping pace is understandably challenging,” Groucutt said.

“We’ve gone from it being controlled by the Government Procurement Service (now the Crown Commercial Service) to the Government Digital Service (GDS), and now we’re swapping the CloudStore for the Digital Marketplace – not to mention the changes to the security classifications.”

According to Databarracks, while central government has the resources to adapt to these changes, local authorities do not and as a result, it has painted an unfair image that they are unwilling to embrace cloud services. 

G-Cloud and digital commercial programme director Tony Singleton has claimed that public sector organisations have saved over £120m buying services through the G-Cloud framework.

“It is not surprising that 80% of the G-Cloud spend to date has come from central government – it is an easier group to target and educate. Now we need to extend the message to local government," Groucutt said.

He further warned that the recently changed Government Security Classifications will only add further confusion for local government departments considering procuring services through the G-Cloud framework.

Earlier this week, it was announced that suppliers seeking to join G-Cloud would not be able to apply for the Pan Government Accreditation (PGA) from 30 July. PGA certifies IT suppliers to handle data up to certain levels of sensitivity under the impact level (IL) classification scheme, without the need to certify again for each organisation they work with.

“Moving to the sixth iteration of G-Cloud, the new classification system consisting of just three categories – Official, Secret and Top Secret – will be used,” Groucutt said.

Guidance for the new approach will be out for comment in the next few weeks, the government has said.

This is not the first time the G-Cloud framework has come under attack.

Local government IT user group Socitm has previously acknowledged that local government is making less use of the G-Cloud framework than its central government counterparts.

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.

Last month, the industry body Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) warned that G-Cloud is failing to make it easier for public sector organisations to procure cloud services because the framework lacks transparency.

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,” said CIF chief executive Alex Hilton.

Read more on Clustering for high availability and HPC