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A general lack of awareness surrounding framework agreements is obstructing greater uptake of G-Cloud services among local authorities and housing associations in the UK.

The G-Cloud framework is a UK government programme aimed at promoting government-wide adoption of cloud computing. The benefits of procuring services via this method are not currently being adequately communicated to potential buyers by the government, leaving G-Cloud in the dust when it comes to procurement for some public sector authorities.

Tony Singleton, the head of Government Digital Services (GDS), recently announced intentions to do more in promoting the G-Cloud framework to the wider public sector. This is following news that despite strong uptake amongst central government, between 2012 and 2013, only 1 per cent of local councils in England had procured IT services through G-Cloud’s online CloudStore.

Any plans by GDS to increase uptake must incorporate the need to create greater awareness of the framework – beyond central government.

The long standing complications of tendering for services are well documented: time-length and cost, administrative issues, the need for compliance, and the overall management process, rightly takes its toll on the public sector. As you might expect, some departments will have built up an aversion to this process.

Recently, in a survey across 100 different housing professionals into their experience with service contracts undertaken by allpay ltd a bill payment specialist, the findings revealed that when it comes to reviewing service contracts, housing associations and local authorities opted to procure new services via a tender process as opposed to going through a framework. Procuring new services via a framework agreement removes the need for costly, time consuming tendering processes.

The fallout from this is a reluctance to engage in reviewing existing service contracts, inevitably creating a vendor lock-in situation whereby public sector services are supplied solely by a select few vendors.

The G-Cloud framework is striving to move away from this by providing public sector departments with access to a ready-made pool of pre-approved suppliers offering an array of flexible and cost-effective solutions which traditionally they will not have had access to. Often the technology available will give a much better quality of service to government departments than those currently available; it’s these points, which need to be communicated.

The action must therefore be on central government and suppliers to work directly with local councils to drive education. Greater education surrounding the benefits of procuring services via a framework agreement opposed to traditional tender processes means less downtime between identifying services and fulfilling them, which considering how lengthy and costly the tender process can be, is a considerable benefit. Also, the availability of greater choice and flexibility will no doubt afford more opportunities to local authorities and housing associations in terms of the products it can offer to its customers.


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