Buying group plans £3bn ‘Alpha G-Cloud’ framework as alternative to CCS deal

YPO, working with fellow procurement organisation NEPO, is to establish a buyer vehicle to support public sector entities to access a wide range of cloud services in a compliant manner

A procurement body has unveiled plans to create a multibillion-pound framework dubbed ‘Alpha G-Cloud’, intended to help public sector organisations address “compliance challenges” in buying cloud services, while providing an alternative to the government-run G-Cloud buying vehicle.

An early engagement document published by YPO – also known as Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation – serves as notice that the local government-owned buying group is commencing a “market consultation for the development of the groundbreaking Alpha G-Cloud solution”.

The engagement states that “It is YPO’s vision to design a solution that will support public sector organisations across the whole UK in maximising the value of technology by offering access to a hosted and centralised digital marketplace(s) with a diverse range of cloud and software applications, subscriptions, and services”.

The procurement notice states that the framework – which is being delivered by YPO in conjunction with another procurement body, NEPO – aims to better serve the needs of “public sector customers [that] are bound by strict regulations concerning procurement and public tendering, such as PCR (Public Contracts Regulations) 2015 and the upcoming Procurement Act 2023 and Procurement Regulations 2024”.

The proposed new buying vehicle is intended to help public bodies ensure their purchases of cloud tools and services meet the requirement of complying with regulations.

“[The] Alpha G-Cloud solution will be designed to address the compliance challenges when procuring cloud and software applications, as well as maintain access to dynamic technology offerings,” the engagement notice said.

Although the consultation phase does not represent a commitment to proceed with a full procurement, YPO currently expects to issue a formal contract notice in early November. The resulting framework – which is forecast to support up to £3bn of spending – will not be split into lots.

The early-engagement notice states that YPO wishes to ultimately appoint suppliers that have “an established B2B marketplace presence” and can offer buyers a “a single point of access… [to] its software and licence providers”. Providers wishing to secure a spot on the framework will also be expected to offer “centralised order and payment functionality,” while demonstrating “comprehensive cyber security” and the ability to deliver and support “a diverse range of cloud and software applications, subscriptions and services”.

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According to YPO, product and technology areas covered by Alpha G-Cloud are likely to include: “AI and machine learning; analytics; business applications; blockchain; data applications and services; DevOps; IT and management tools; infrastructure software; Internet of Things; migration; [and] monitoring and diagnostics”.

In a statement issued in response to enquiries from PublicTechnology, Agnieszka Gajli, strategic procurement manager at YPO, said that new procurement laws will help the procurement organisation deliver a framework that helps establish parity between customers and suppliers.

“We will officially procure this solution under new Procurement Act 2023 and Procurement Regulations 2024 and use the new regime flexibility in designing a solution that will help to create a level playing field between a public sector buyer and the software seller,” she said. “This framework is available to the public sector – including local authorities and schools.”

While G-Cloud – which was first created in 2012, and is expected to shortly appoint suppliers to its 14th iteration – will be familiar to most public sector tech buyers, its near namesake is not affiliated to the long-standing buying vehicle, run by the Crown Commercial Service.

“It will be a competing solution and not linked to the CCS solution, [and] will focus on supporting YPO’s customers in maximising the value of technology,” Gajli said.

Suppliers – or potential buyers – interested in taking part in the consultation phase are asked to contact the YPO procurement manager by 5 July.

The buying group will conduct “a series of market-engagement events to be held in July and August 2024 at which YPO and the participating organisations will be required to make a formal presentation”.

YPO was founded in 1974 to support procurement across 13 local councils around Yorkshire and north west England – which remain the collective owners of the organisation. This includes councils representing: Barnsley; Bolton; Bradford; Calderdale; Doncaster; Kirklees; Knowsley; North Yorkshire; Rotherham; St Helens; Wakefield; Wigan; and York.

The organisation now operates 100 frameworks, which feature a cumulative tally of 23,000 products and services.

“YPO supplies products and services to a wide range of customers including schools, local authorities, charities, emergency services, public sector and other businesses such as nurseries and care homes,” the organisation’s website says. “We’re 100% publicly owned, by 13 local authorities, which means the profits we make are returned to our public sector customers, delivering even better value for money.”

It adds: “As we can combine your demands with our other customers, we can negotiate a better deal for you than if you tried on your own. All of this means that you receive the best possible range and prices without ever having to compromise on service or quality.”

Other procurement groups operating a similar model including the education-focused ESPO and CPC consortia, as well as NEPO – which is governed by 12 local authorities across the north east, and will support YPO in delivering the Alpha G-Cloud framework.

Sam Trendall

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