Cabinet Office extends £9.5m Google apps deal as switch to Microsoft nears

Department is in the process of delivering a £50m project to implement a new IT system and enable wholesale move to Microsoft, to better align with the rest of government

The Cabinet Office has signed a multimillion-pound one-year extension to its contract covering the provision of Google’s core professional apps – as it continues work on a major programme that will see the department make a wholesale switch to Microsoft platforms.

Newly published procurement documents reveal that the department’s deal for the Google Workspace range of core productivity apps – which was due to expire later this month – will now run until 29 September 2024.

The initial two-year contract signed in 2021 was valued at the £5.78m. Following the extension, this figure has risen to £9.45m. This means that the Cabinet Office expects to spend £3.67m on Google software and related services in the coming 12 months – a rise of almost £800,000 when compared with the first two years of the agreement.

This may mark the last tranche of money spent by the central department on the professional-grade versions of Google tools such as Gmail, Docs and Drive, as well as the search firm’s platforms for chat, video meetings, spreadsheet, slides and various other functions.

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As exclusively revealed by PublicTechnology earlier this year, the Cabinet Office is currently undertaking a major programme of work to revamp its tech infrastructure – including the development of a new unified internal IT system to be used throughout the department and its agencies, alongside a wholesale migration from Google to Microsoft programs.

The £52m project – known as Falcon – is scheduled to complete delivery by 31 March 2025, albeit with a potential “contingency of one year that will be informed” by what is learned during the programme’s soon-to-conclude research phase. The aim of this stage of the project is to “deliver a plan with a high level of confidence for the build of the new platform and the migration to M365”.

Since its creation in 2011, the Government Digital Service – and, latterly, its sister agency the Central Digital and Data Office – has been known for favouring Google’s productivity tools. The wider Cabinet Office began switching all its agencies and users to Google’s apps in 2014 – in what was seen as a major coup for the Silicon Valley giant.

Almost 10 years on, and the decision to move back to Microsoft is intended to “enable better interoperability across government… the Cabinet Office is at the heart of government and a common productivity suite will enable more efficient and effective ways of working”, according to data published by the department.

Since 2019, the department’s contract for Google’s productivity apps has been fulfilled by Cloud Technology Solutions – a Mancunian IT firm that claims to be the vendor’s largest specialist reseller and services partner in Europe.

Sam Trendall

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