Socitm challenges G-Cloud ‘waste’ report

Public sector ICT representative body Socitm has slammed research reported by the BBC earlier this week which claimed county councils were “wasting millions” by not using the G-Cloud procurement platform.

The report, based on a freedom of information request by cloud supplier Bull to 27 county councils, found that in 2012-13, councils spent £440 million on IT services, but only 1 per cent (£385,000) was through G-Cloud.

In a strongly worded statement, Socitm said that conclusion of the report that the councils were wasting money showed a poor understanding of how councils procure and deploy ICT.

The statement said: “Media reports based on 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.

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“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.”

Socitm added that the data did not capture significant one-off spending via the G-Cloud, citing Hampshire County Council’s high spending during 2011-12 through G-Cloud.

The statement added: “Large local authorities (individually, county councils are among the largest local authorities) have significant in-house capability to provide IT infrastructure and services, a route that for some services can be more cost-effective that buying-in external services, even cloud-based services.”

Socitm added that G-Cloud was established primarily to address problems with central government ICT procurement and deployment practice.

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 ICT architectures fit for the future, especially where these impact on councils’ increasing need to join-up and deliver services with partners in Health, Police, Voluntary and other sectors.”

A spokesperson for Kent County Council said: ‘We have used the G-Cloud to procure some software, but it is not currently able to offer the time savings, quality assurances and consistency necessary to make it effective.

“We have raised these issues with the Cabinet Office and believe that until these are addressed, the G-Cloud does not offer the best route for sourcing software for local authorities.”

Colin Marrs

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