At yesterday’s Think Cloud For Government event, council leaders shared their G-Cloud experiences and some contradicted Government Digital Service (GDS) claims that the procurement framework has been a success.
At the conference, Mark Pinheiro, head of procurement at GDS, claimed the network saves money for the taxpayer and has created “clearer, simpler, faster procurement” – a statement parallel with those made by government CTO Liam Maxwell earlier in the day.
According to Pinheiro, the 2012 opening of CloudStore was the creation of an open and transparent marketplace.
He says G-Cloud has provided many benefits: long contracts can now be avoided, money can be saved on maintenance, pay-as-you-go plans are available rather than monthly costs for products that aren’t even used and short contracts equal more flexibility.
Besides this, Pinheiro says the framework is set to only get better, as user feedback has led to the creation of a new digital marketplace that will be an amalgamation of the current services.
He noted that the Alpha phase of the project will be ready by the end of April, while the Beta phase will be seen by the end of July this year.
One speaker at the conference, Anthony Kemp, director of corporate resources for the London Borough of Hounslow and G-Cloud customer, called the purchasing process “fairly straightforward.”
However, his peers expressed issues with the procurement framework. Christian Colthart, transformation programme manager of Melton Borough Council, claimed that “G-Cloud is run by techies, for techies.”
Colthart also contradicted Pinheiro by saying that the procurement process via the framework needs to speed up.
David Wilde, CIO at Essex County Council, also showed concern that more work needed to be done to call G-Cloud a success.
“The procurement process hasn’t been simplified by G-Cloud,” he claimed, adding that there needs to be a more focused effort on providing what users want.
In fact, the GDS head of procurement himself demonstrated that user feedback wasn’t entirely being taken into account – despite many requests to extend the maximum length of contracts available via the framework, Pinheiro said the two-year limit was not going to change.
When asked for the reasoning behind this, he claimed that because technology can change so much in two-year period, it makes sense to allow contracts to accommodate this and short contracts also keep the market open.