With the fifth iteration of the framework due any day now, G-Cloud's third year will be an interesting one to watch as the Government Digital Service (GDS) considers the shape and future format of the initiative, but not, fortunately, the Cloud First principles underpinning it.
The G-Cloud model has been recognised as one that can - and should - be replicated by other governments around the world, with countries such as Australia, Canada and India taking that principle and putting it into action.
Sadly some European politicians closer to home still can't see the merit of national programs, preferring instead the toxic allure of Brussels red tape.
In the UK, G-Cloud has been a tool used by the Cabinet Office to drive through change in public sector procurement and reform, including providing an easier route to market for SMBs seeking to win government business via the CloudStore shopfront.
There's still a lot to do. GDS has recently removed more than 100 irrelevant services which were listed on the CloudStore, while a group of G-Cloud supporting suppliers recently published an open letter outlining changes they felt were needed.
While central government has a Cloud First mandate in place, local government does not, which may explain GDS chief operating officer Tony Singleton's pledge last month to target local authorities to ensure that they understand the benefits of using the CloudStore.
And it remains a harsh reality that 80% of suppliers listed in the framework have yet to make a penny from sales via the G-Cloud.
Singleton wrote last week:
It’s important for us to keep talking about how we are taking G-Cloud forward and about how it will transform the experience of public sector buyers and their suppliers for the better, ensuring that all departments deliver great digital services for users.
G-Cloud has the potential to reach an estimated 30,000 buyers across the public sector. Yet research carried out by the 6 Degree Group suggests that nearly 90 percent of local authorities have not heard of G-Cloud.
Of course, any transformational change of the scale that G-Cloud can deliver may be scary. We’re speaking to buyers to find out how we can communicate with them better and to really get to the bottom of their concerns about using G-Cloud and then address those issues head on.
We need to help buyers and all those people involved in the procurement process to understand how G-Cloud can save them both time and money. We’ve begun this by publishing a clearer guide on how to use G-Cloud and will support this by publishing further advice and help on the major issues that buyers raise with us.
We also need to increase awareness of G-Cloud across the wider public sector. Going out to more events to speak to our target audiences will help, and we are already doing this in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government.
So work to do, work to do, but it's an ongoing project as Singleton notes:
We are always looking to make improvements to processes and to address problems as they emerge. One particular issue we are working on at the moment is security accreditation. Security accreditation is required for all services that will hold information assessed at Business Impact Level profiles 11x/22x, 33x and above.
But of course, with the new security protection markings that are being introduced on 1 April, that will change. We will be publishing clear guidance on how this will affect accreditation of G-Cloud suppliers and services soon.
We’re excited to be looking at how a new and improved CloudStore, can act as a single space for public sector buyers to find what they need on all digital frameworks.
This new digital marketplace will be built entirely around user needs and will meet the Digital by Default Service Standard.
So change is in the air.
But today is a day to celebrate what has been achieved.
Singleton took time to thank his predecessors Chris Chant and Denise McDonagh for their work over the past two years:
Happy birthday G-Cloud!
We badly needed you - and we still do.
Tony Singleton, Denise McDonagh and Chris Chant will be among the luminaries speaking at Think Cloud for Government in London on 25th March alongside government COO Stephen Kelly. diginomica is proud to be the main media partner for this, the third iteration of the leading UK public sector cloud computing event.
Attendance is free of charge to qualified public sector professionals. You can find registration information and check out the agenda at www.thinkcloudforgovernment.com.