Government spending is rarely out of the headlines, and the issue was right at the top of the news agenda recently when data was released about the difference in prices paid by NHS Trusts for the same medical supplies.
In times of austerity, when we’re all feeling the pinch, the government is working hard to reduce inefficiencies in spending across the public sector, and one of the major ways in which they hope to achieve this is with the launch of the G-Cloud system.
Although it’s not directly connected with procurement of medical supplies, G-Cloud is the first step in making the IT systems used by public sector organisations more cost effective.
The idea behind the G-Cloud is that organisations working in the public sector will be able to buy computer services from the pre-approved packages available through the cloud on a per user basis. This will save money, make things simpler and avoid duplication.
The first release of the cloud was in February 2012, with the second version going live in October.
How It Works
The essence of the G-Cloud is the CloudStore, a virtual shop window where any public sector organisation can look for a whole range of IT services such as training packages, anti-spam software or IT support. The companies have to be pre-approved to be featured on the cloud, so this immediately cuts down the time and effort required in investigating potential suppliers and going through a lengthy tender process to determine which is the best for an organisation’s needs.
The G-cloud is seen as an ongoing process, with suppliers and services continuing to be added over time.
As well as savings in time, the G-Cloud is saving duplication of efforts. It puts a stop to the situation of having two IT managers in neighbouring towns going through the identical process of identifying suppliers for a new training system. The basic work has already been done, and all the manager has to do is choose from the pre-approved suppliers on offer.
The government is also proud of the fact that as well as featuring the massive multinational IT corporations we are all familiar with, the cloud also helps small and medium sized businesses feature on an equal basis and compete for contracts. The total spend to date on services from the G-cloud has been £2.2 million.
The success of the concept of the G-Cloud to date means that the government is keen to continue with the development, and roll it out with even more products and services being offered. The next release of the cloud will provide an additional 3,000 services and new services will continue to be added as time goes on.
Major projects such as a new email system for the NHS are expected to be managed through the CloudStore, and if the concept is a success there is no reason why the concept will not eventually be applied to all government procurement, not just in the IT sector.
About the author: Ben is regular of new articles to the public procurement community. He also helps to promote Procserve’s services. For more on Government eCommerce and Procurement Networks visit Procserve solutions.