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Government Departments May Miss Cloud Targets

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

A senior figure at HMRC has warned that large government departments may miss their Cloud computing targets

The CIO at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Phil Pavitt, has warned that large government departments may struggle to meet targets on Cloud computing.

The warning from Pavitt was made in an interview with Computer Weekly, when he said that the target as set out by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, that 50 percent of all new IT spend  should be made through cloud computing, may be missed.

Target Miss?

“I think for two or three big authorities dealing with very specific [systems] that will be hard,” Pavitt was quoted as saying.

Last October Maude promised £1.4 billion in savings on Government IT, while delivering better public services delivered online, through an ambitious IT plan which included Cloud computing and open source software.

As part of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), the government is committed to get half of Whitehall departments’ new ICT spending to public cloud computing services by December 2015.

Last month the government revealed it will have saved £140 million this financial year as a result of more stringent rules on ICT expenditure.

HMRC’s Pavitt made clear that he expects HMRC to meet its Cloud target, if spending on core tax systems is ignored.

According to the Computer Weekly interview, Pavitt believes HMRC will deliver 50% or more of its new IT spending through the cloud – providing that spending on larger and core systems that would not be suitable for the Cloud, is discounted or ignored.

“PAYE is relatively unique to us, it’s an enormous system and brings in a couple of hundred billion [pounds] – that will probably never be a cloud-based service,” Pavitt reportedly said.

Pavitt indicated that it was unlikely that HMRC’s heavy duty tax systems would migrate to the cloud, but he said the department would make IT procurements through the new CloudStore over the next two years, particularly in areas such as business intelligence, desktop software, data management, manipulation, and mining.

G-Cloud Strategy

Last month the government officially launched its CloudStore, kicking off the G-Cloud strategy which aims to create a competitive marketplace for cloud-delivered services that are pre-approved for public-sector bodies.

The government has said it will re-open the G-Cloud framework for new suppliers and products in the next few weeks. The response was “overwhelming” and the tender deadline was extended several times, stretching the submission process to the end of 2011.

Last summer there had been concern that the G-Cloud project had been abandoned and it was dismissed as ‘unnecessary’ by David Wilde, CIO for Westminster City Council earlier in 2011.

But by the Autumn it soon became clear that the project was very much alive and well and on 18 October the government published the G-Cloud framework tender process, saying that the duration of the framework tender process would be only six to nine months.

The G-Cloud framework is worth up to £60 million and aims to provide government departments with ‘pay as you go’ IT systems.

Because there are less stringent financial history reporting requirements and a more open procedure with a simple spreadsheet of Yes or No answers to mandatory questions rather that a lengthy pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ), its appeal among SMEs is especially high.

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