The Cabinet Office has announced a second G-Cloud supplier framework intended to provide more opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs).
The framework is intended to give more companies an opportunity to supply G-Cloud services through the CloudStore online catalogue, and represents a key promise of the government to open up more government procurement to SMEs, according to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude today.
The new G-Cloud framework has a number of features intended to make it more accessible to SMEs, such as open procedures with no lengthy pre-qualification questionnaire, less stringent financial history requirements, simplified mandatory questions and specifications, and provision of services on standard terms.
There was an overwhelming response to the first tender, according to the Cabinet Office, with more than 600 expressions of interest. The Government Procurement Service subsequently awarded framework agreements to about 250 suppliers, of which around three-quarters are SMEs.
An updated version of CloudStore – the online marketplace for cloud services – was launched last week.
"We are reforming the way the public sector uses ICT so that it is cheaper, more transparent, more innovative and flexible – with more opportunities for SMEs to enter the marketplace," said Maude.
He added: "Our ICT strategy is all about the public sector avoiding the expense and inefficiency of developing different systems and duplicating services that cannot be shared. This off-the-shelf, pay-as-you-go approach is a great example, and G-Cloud services typify the cheaper more agile model for government IT that our ICT strategy is making positive strides towards."
G-Cloud is part of the government's strategy to drive down computing costs in the public sector, by encouraging more competition among suppliers and the delivery of such services in more cost-efficient ways.
The government claims savings of £3.75bn in 2010/11 and that it is on target to deliver a further £5bn in 2011/12. Recently, the Government Procurement Service signed new deals with Capgemini and Oracle that, it claims, will deliver savings of £200m and £75m respectively by 2015.