The government is set to announce the suppliers shortlisted for its G-Cloud frameworks for cloud computing, and is looking for technology standards to apply to Whitehall systems.

Liam Maxwell, director of ICT futures at the Cabinet Office, said: "We recently carried out a procurement exercise and about 400 companies bid. We will shortly be announcing the accredited providers."

Speaking at the Cloud Expo event in London today, Maxwell said the government was determined to make good on its promise of broadening the supplier market.

"We will be creating different sizes of contract, so we will be looking for all sizes of supplier. It's about everyone having equal access to the work."

Maxwell said the deals the government signs will also be shorter.

"We don't need to be signing cloud contracts for five years. Not many contracts will be longer than 12 months. With cloud you can practically pay by credit card and get it running.

"This is a massive step change for government. We're not going to be locked in."

The government is looking to the IT industry to help it establish a set of standards to apply to its systems, Maxwell added. "We are publishing a consultation next month into software and interoperability standards."

It is hoped in Whitehall that by establishing standards, and using cloud computing, technology can be bought and used much more effectively and cheaply.

"We need to fall out of love with IT, and in love with digital delivery," he said, explaining that the focus needed to be providing better services rather than enthusing about the latest systems.

"There need to be standardised, effective platforms, not the 300 plus diverse systems that we are running now."