G-Cloud buyers left confused as CCS accidentally issues incorrect guidance

Profile picture for user ddpreez By Derek du Preez December 18, 2019
Summary:
Guidance went out that buyers could only purchase G-Cloud Lot 3 - the most popular lot on the framework - when combined with other lots.

Image of a post-it note saying ‘oops’

Public sector buyers of cloud products and services were left confused after the recent launch of G-Cloud 11, following some false guidance that was issued by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) - the Whitehall organisation responsible for the framework. 

Suppliers were told by CCS that Lot 3 of the G-Cloud framework, which sells cloud support and skills, could only be sold in conjunction with Lot 1 (cloud hosting) and Lot 2 (cloud software). 

In other words, suppliers and buyers were told that cloud support could only be bought if buyers were also buying either some cloud hosting or cloud software. 

According to sources, internal account managers have been telling buyers in government that this is the case. 

Lot 3 is still currently the most popular lot on the G-Cloud framework by spend, with 70% of spend going to cloud support. If the guidance had been accurate, this would likely have had negative consequences for the G-Cloud framework and it is unsurprising that suppliers and buyers have been left confused. 

A Cabinet Office spokesperson confirmed that the guidance had been issued in error, but said that only a small number of suppliers had been affected and that the misinformation had been corrected. 

The spokesperson said that they didn’t anticipate any long term consequences as a result of the mistake. 

Background

Launched in 2012, G-Cloud was an innovative procurement vehicle for government buyers to get access to cloud services. At the time, the pre-approved nature of the framework was unheard of in Whitehall, allowing those seeking technology suppliers a transparent list of services to choose from - with large and small suppliers sitting side by side, on an equal footing.

CCS launched G-Cloud 11 - the latest iteration of the framework - in July of this year, which went live with 4,200 suppliers. G-Cloud 11 has 700 more suppliers than G-Cloud 10. 

At the time, CCS said that over 90% of all the suppliers listed on the framework are SMEs and that of the £4.79 billion spent through the platform since 2012, £2.15 billion has gone directly to small and medium enterprises. Since then, spend through the platform has increased to £5.1 billion. 

More recently, CCS raised some eyebrows over its future plans for the G-Cloud framework, including limiting the number of suppliers and extending the 2 year contract rule. Not only this, but an overhaul of the Digital Marketplace, the platform that hosts the G-Cloud framework, amongst others, supposedly is set for an overhaul. However, concrete plans are yet to be shared in a transparent manner.