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back to article Maxwell: Under G-Cloud, gov will buy IT 'like stationery'

The G-Cloud will usher in an era of public ICT contracts that are measured in months, rather than years, according to Liam Maxwell, the Cabinet Office's director of ICT futures. The G-Cloud could see government procurement move away from its traditional model, whereby contracts are signed for periods of several years and then …

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah - great

"I'm bored with this new patient record system - we've had it in for, oh, weeks now. Let's spin up something else in the cloud and migrate all the data, just for grins."

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Anonymous Coward

Bought Like Stationary

That's worrying, I know people who have had to buy their own pens, staples, paperclips etc because "there's not enough money in the stationary budget"!

Not sure a civil servants wage will cover the cost of IT if they have to buy it themselves!

Yeah, I know, taking it too literally

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong budget?

Your colleagues probably got knocked back, because they put their requisitions in against the wrong budget. Pens and staplers come under "stationEry". The "stationAry" budget is presumably used to purchase things which never move.

[icon:pedant]

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It's a load of...

... lip flap.

e-GIF is/was a attempt to come to a standard for government schemas and stuff. No one paid much attention to it and as far as I know it is pretty well dead in the water.

If this falls short of removing all IT budgets from the whole public sector and moving to central procurement it'll be forgotten by this time next year.

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Government Forecast?

Let's hope not considering how often they get it so badly wrong. It will probably be worse and we find they will be buying for decades not years going forward.

As for the things like user devices, networks, etc. not sure if Mr Maxwell has noticed but these have been consumables purchased like stationary for years. That's why the number of PC sellers is falling, number 3 & 4 in the market probably break even, everyone below them is losing money. Servers are also becoming commodity items hence why they are being converted to specialist engines for specific types of workloads.

@ Anonymous Coward; why do you think you are taking it to literally. I know a couple of companies where staff are expected to buy their own mobile phones (with some financial support from the employer) or where staff are given the option of buying a new laptop every two years which will be their work machine during the initial two years. They then get to keep the laptop having paid for it on the never never and giving the employer a final payment on transfer. I am sure the Tories will look at that as an option going forward. They already want single parents to pay them for getting maintenance payments from unwilling ex partners.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bluenose

The scary thing is it's quite possible. I meant I was taking the 'bought like stationary' too literally, in that unlike stationary it's never been hard to get hold of IT equipment. You get no guarantee that it won't be crap equipment but laying your hands on something isn't too difficult.

The "buy your own and then keep it" will never happen/work in many areas of Government because once a hard-drive has had classified material on it it can only be destroyed. Sure, you _could_ (must work out how to do bold!) remove the drive and destroy that, but it's an extra complication compared to "oh the PC's dead, we'll backload it". As well all know, any extra level of complication = higher probability of fuck-up.

Whilst I completely disagree with the idea of single parents having to pay to get maintenance, I can't help think this is a mess of the CSA's own making. IIRC it was the genii at the CSA who decided that you could try and claim money from a sperm donor!

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That Will Work

...only for infrastructure items such as servers, network equipment, telecom services and so on.

The really difficult stuff is in custom gubbermint applications (e.g. police records, police "wanted" systems, health administration software, military logistics apps, military command and control systems and lots of other stuff). Exactly all the places where horrible cost overruns and project failures happen all the time.

So does this matter in terms of government IT spending ? Probably not that much.

Also, it will require strict standardization, as the gov man rightly pointed out.

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Anonymous Coward

I read an interesting seminar earlier this week on the history of Logistic systems in the RAF. The first (computerised-ish) was in 1957, but it was the observations the author made that got me thinking;

He pointed out that throughout their history of developing what was then called EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Systems, one thing remained a constant - The bod in charge of the project had a direct line to the Director General. He was also of equivalent rank to the rest of the top bods, so could argue his case properly in meetings.

As a result, not only were cutting edge systems developed, but they came in on time and at reasonable budget! Fast-forward to today: how many people in charge of a new IT project are not only able to go direct to the top, but are able to argue (on level grounds) with the people in charge of other aspects of the business? I personally would agree that that's a big cause of fuckups nowadays (think moving targets, cut this bit to save us £x), even more unavaoidable when entire projects are outsourced nowadays.

As a completely useless fact, something else I learned about the EDP? They used telecoms to transmit the data from one reel of tape to another at the remote site. Nothing special there, but the Post Office even had the foresight to design the system so that the tape was written backwards eliminating the need for rewind!

It's depressing in some ways to see just how far behind the UK has fallen when it comes to tech.

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Will it work?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/27/police_wasting_blackberrys/ would indicate that it's a struggle even for comms...

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm IIRC wasn't the whole RAF stock control/maintenance/`systems` all bagged up and now run by IBM services!

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Anonymous Coward

Nope

Some of the systems possibly are, but the stock control isn't. It's not run by the RAF anymore though, but as I'm at work I'd probably better not name the supplier!

It's actually not a bad little system at all, the latest version has a few (IMHO predictable) issues and I preferred the older version, but it's not bad in the least. When I was on a course relating to administration of the system, one of the RAF boys teaching proudly said that it had never successfully been compromised or hit with malware. Two seconds later he looked pointedly at me and said "and no, that's not a challenge!".

The biggest issue with the system now is the outsourcing of support. There are things that I could quickly fix when we had a server here, now that it's all centralised you have no choice but to use the call-centre. Still that's the way a lot of things are going!

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

"core services will be purchased in the same way as common office supplies are today"

So that means put out to tender, get a preferred supplier for a category of items (ie stationary, standard computer and so on), and then once the supplier is in place they offer a few items at a great price but for the rest charge more per unit than anyone else but they know you can't buy elsewhere.

Oh and anything outside the core items defined at the start is classed as "specialst" and they can put a whopping great mark up on too (I'm looking you Mr Dell here....)

However some central unit makes a saving on administration from paying one supplier, at the cost of the individual unit paying more for items so it's a good idea.

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WTF?

And then he went back to his 'shrooms...

When he says Cloud, does he mean Cloud Cuckoo Land?

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FAIL

Stalinist? Really?

""We want to be Stalinist about open standards," he said"

I don't think Stalinism means what you think it means.

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> Not sure a civil servants wage will cover the cost of IT if they have to buy it themselves!

No problem.

Put it on Google Docs for free. Medical records, tax statements, defence plans; what could possibly go wrong?

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Anonymous Coward

I think it's brilliant.

The amount of times I've feel I've seen the likes Twatos, ThickEds, Crapita and Semens stain their reputation (but more importantly, rip me as a taxpayer off,) by engineering long running contracts due to inbuilt dependency.

Removing their ability to guarantee being in a job in three months time, means they can't try on deliberately flawed development practices to ensure lock in.

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Anonymous Coward

Suppliers

I can't quite work out who you mean by ThickEds, the rest I've got? Brain on slow today!

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