G-Cloud III framework agreements to go live at the end of March 2013
OJEU notice to be available online this week
The G-Cloud team has started work on the next iteration of the G-Cloud programme and set out a timetable for the third procurement round, which is expected to commence at the end of March 2013, with the relevant OJEU notice to be posted this week.
The 'clarification period', which is already underway, will close on 8 February 2013, according to a blog post on the G-Cloud website. The deadline for the publication of responses to clarification questions is 14 February 2013, while the tender submission deadline is 21 February.
The intention to award notification, which is sent to both successful and unsuccessful potential providers, will be issued by 29 March 2013. A 10-day standstill period, which is mandatory between the decision to award an OJEU-tendered contract and its official signing, will take place between 29 March and 15 April, with the expected 'commencement date' for framework agreements due at the end of March.
G-Cloud III will differ slightly from its predecessor G-Cloud II in a number of ways. Firstly, the total value of potential spend on the framework will increase to £200m, from a previous total of £100m. Secondly, the team is seeking to strengthen representation on the framework in the areas of business process automation, identity services, software support and service integration and service management.
Thirdly, according to the G-Cloud website, the team is introducing an improved invitation-to-tender (ITT) application process and revised terms and conditions. In particular, this will involve a new and improved order form and call-off agreement and "a new online ITT submission form, pre-populated for existing GII suppliers with their service information". The post adds that, after a public discussion on the revised terms and conditions in October 2012, "we are planning to make these a standardised set going forward...to ensure that they more fully take into account the complexities of cloud computing."
Some elements of earlier iterations will remain, however, with the framework and call-off lengths plus the lot structure staying the same.
Current G-Cloud suppliers can choose to remain on the G-Cloud II framework- which will run until 27 October 2013 - or 'roll-over' their services to G-Cloud III. Those suppliers wishing to refresh or add new services to G-Cloud III will need to state as such in their tender response.
The first framework (G-Cloud I) went live in February 2012, and from the start planned to run procurements every three to six months, "so as to encourage a regular influx of new suppliers and refreshed services."
Since the first iteration about a year ago, the blog says that G-Cloud's achievements have been to make buying easier for the public sector, driving innovation, competition and transparency, thus opening up the government marketplace to SMEs (who account for over 60% of sales so far). The CloudStore, the G-Cloud programme's 'shop front', now offers over 3,200 cloud services and has achieved more than £4m in sales to the end of December 2012.
Moreover, according to the government's chief procurement officer Bill Crothers, G-Cloud provides "a model for success" for other government frameworks. The G-Cloud team explains that this is because the programme "makes it easier for ICT suppliers- particularly SMEs- to do business with government through a more efficient and simpler procurement."