How The UK Government Trying To Save Money With The Cloud
The UK Government have been long-time proponents of the cloud. As a result of their great belief in the technology they introduced G-Cloud in 2012; the service aims to make procurement easier for public sector bodies in departments of the United Kingdom Government – with it being specifically focused on commodity information technology services that use cloud computing.
Underlining the policy, the UK Government’s Cabinet Minister Francis Maude claimed that “Cloud services are quicker, cheaper and more competitive”. He also said some public service IT departments estimate that they can be 25% to 60% cheaper for their organisation than if they were using traditional long-term IT contracts.
Sadly for the UK, despite the government’s excellent initiative, the G-Cloud is not being effectively used. In the 2012-13 financial year, county councils spent nearly £440 million ($680 million) in total on IT services, including staffing costs, but just £385,000 of that went through the government’s G-Cloud framework.
The one of the worst performing regions, Kent, was also one of the biggest spenders on IT; they committed £38.5 million to IT services in 2012-13, but just £94,750 of that went through G-Cloud – a worryingly small percentage (0.24%). Remarkably, there are even regions where no money was spent on G-Cloud – Hampshire failed to spend any of their £38 million budget on the government service.
Research in the UK suggests that by sharing infrastructure costs and moving to the cloud, local regions could take 20 percent to 25 percent out of their total IT costs – meaning the level of waste is running into the millions.
G-Cloud cannot be considered a failure merely in terms of national savings. Since launch, the service has seen £175.5 million of sales made through the platform up to the end of March 2014, with 60% of those going to small and medium-sized businesses. According to the British Cabinet Office, it now boasts 1,518 suppliers offering about 17,000 services and is one of the most-accessed online government services. Where it can be considered less successful is in how widespread the adoption is. A greatly inflated 80 percent of total sales were made by central, not local, government, and £175.5 million represents a little over 0.25 percent of the total central government IT spending budget of £7 billion.
In their defence, local regions have shot back by saying while the G-Cloud offers a number of contract solutions, for some areas the framework is unable to deliver best value. They highlight the existing nature of their IT contracts, in which they have already outsourced IT management and would have to be recreate it at significant cost to make the G-Cloud the right solution for them.
Nonetheless, some of their critics say the regional governments are simply unwilling and insufficiently trained on how to make the switch. Other commenters are more practical in their criticisms, speculating that locally run data centres would close, and other efficiencies and automation may lead to job losses – outcomes that the local councils are unwilling to endorse as the UK economy starts to click into top gear for the first time in five years.
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By Daniel Price