Cabinet Office Proposes Cross-Department Cloud

data centre, cloud management

A Government document proposes consolidating back-office functions in a cloud-based platform to save money

A Cabinet Office document has proposed  a “cloud based Enterprise Resource Platform” for Government departments to buy into and from, reviving the prospects of a government cloud or “G-cloud” strategy.

The “Government Shared Service: A Strategic Vision” document says that £2.5billion was spent on HR, finance and procurement functions 2009/10, and the government did not get good value for money.

With all departments under pressure to reduce costs, the Government sees an opportunity to save by sharing of back office and supporting functions, the document says.

According to Tony Collins of Campaign4Change, the idea is part of the Government’s plans to standardise its IT systems.

A number of departments are due to upgrade supporting IT systems in the coming years and a co-ordinated management approach will be the government strategy to lower the cost of investment, says Collins.

Consolidation and standardisation

“A number of large Departments who have implemented and operate an Enterprise Resource Platform (ERP) solution need to plan for the expiration of support to the current instance by 2013,’ writes Collins. “This presents an opportunity for UK Government to source a ‘vertical’ solution for a ‘cloud based’ ERP standard platform which Departments could buy into and from,” writes Collins.

According to the document, the shared services strategy is to: “reform how Central Government procures and manages consolidated back office corporate services – by establishing an equitable market of a small number of accredited Independent Shared Service Centres (ISSCs) and enabling Departments and their ALBs (arm’s-length bodies) to choose between these – in order to drive up quality and reduce costs of these services, in support of Governments cost reduction targets.”

The Public Administration Select Committee warned last week that the Government was wasting ‘obscene’ amounts of public money on large IT suppliers.

Collins said: “Standardising could save money – but, as the Public Administration Select Committee warned last week, not if standardising means giving even more control of government IT to a few large, monopolistic suppliers.”

Government investment in the cloud has long been expected, since the coalition announced plans to make large IT spending cuts. however, recent reports have suggested the so-called G-cloud would not appear as its centralisation conflicted with government plans to use smaller contractors.

This announcement seems likely to put the G-cloud back on the table.

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