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

Public ICT contracts to be measured 'in months, rather than years'

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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 extended.

"I don't think we'll be seeing many contracts in the cloud services are that are beyond 12 months," he told the Cloud Expo conference in London.

"That's a massive step change," he added.

In the future, Maxwell predicts that core services will be purchased in the same way as common office supplies are today.

"In two or three years' time what we now call IT, the delivery of those disaggregated services like hosting, networking, end user devices, support, all of those, will become core commodity services" and will be bought "like stationery", he said.

In order to introduce more flexibility into procurement, the government must be rigorous in its backing of open technical standards in IT, according to the ICT advisor.

"We want to be Stalinist about open standards," he said, adding that a period of being agnostic about standards, combined with a centralisation of suppliers, left the government "fantastically locked-in" in the past.

The Cabinet Office will be opening a consultation on open standards over the next few weeks, asking for opinions on what should define an open standard and how they can be used effectively.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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