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Ex-G-Cloud bigwig Chant weighs in on GDS' framework rebrand

But, but... we won 'hearts and minds'

Parliament in the clouds

Former G-Cloud head Chris Chant has entered the growing row over the status of the framework under the UK's Government Digital Service (GDS), criticising its decision to ditch a brand "that has won hearts and minds".

Last week, the GDS moved the @G_Cloud_UK Twitter handle to the Digital Marketplace platform @GOVUKdigimkt, in order to "consolidate" its communications via social media regarding the digital marketplace buying platform, G-Cloud, digital services, and "any other frameworks" on the platform.

However, supporters of the framework have argued the G-Cloud is not a "marketplace" but the key policy for reforming government IT.

Chant told El Reg: "Given the reform of government technology purchasing is still in its infancy, it is a shame that GDS is so quickly moving away from a brand that has won hearts and minds."

He added: "The success of reforms will hinge on public sector awareness and diverse supplier interest. It is hard to see how losing such a popular, well-know brand, quite so soon helps with that."

"It would be good to see the digital marketplace team focus less of their energy and resources on building the website and more on raising awareness in both the supply market and wider public sector," he said.

The views echo those of former G-Cloud lead Mark Craddock who said last week the GDS is in danger of losing focus because it adopting an overly complex "build not buy" approach.

During his tenure as G-Cloud head Chant earned a reputation for speaking out against expensive and "shit" government IT.

In one speech he listed numerous reasons government IT as "unacceptable", arguing that it was "outrageously expensive, ridiculously slow, poor quality in the main" and concentrates 80 per cent of spend with just five organisations.

The GDS – part of the Cabinet Office and formed in 2011 – has the task of transforming the provision of government digital services. The G-Cloud initiative was set up to help to ease the procurement by public sector bodies of commodity information technology services that use cloud computing.

"Above all and at heart of a lot of this is that it is unacceptable not to engage directly with the most agile, forward-thinking SME suppliers in the marketplace today, and with the suppliers we have been using," he said.

According to Chant, "G-Cloud is about a fundamental change in the way the government does computing – not just about cloud computing". ®

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