Amazon Web Services has an entirely separate global sales division dedicated to chasing lucrative public sector business in cloud computing.

Governments around the world are trying to harness digital technology to make their operations more efficient and cheaper for taxpayers, particularly at a time when many are cutting spending under austerity programmes.

"We have over 600 government agencies and over 2,400 academic institutions that are leveraging AWS today," said Brian Matsubara, Head of Global Technology Alliances at AWS, which offers cloud computing services on a pay-as-you-go basis.

"This part of the business is growing rapidly for us and we expect this to do nothing but continue."

Matsubara was speaking at a media conference in New York put on by global consultancy and technology specialist Capgemini.

He was echoing statements made by Lanny Cohen, Capgemini's global chief technology officer, who said his firm had seen a significant market opportunity in providing digital services for the public sector.

"In the public sector, oddly enough at a time when the public sector as we all know is struggling, we've focused on an area at the state level that there was still a lot of dynamic. It was the area of unemployment insurance, tax and welfare," said Cohen at the same event.

"There's a lot of fraud, waste and abuse that goes on in that and we came in with a very compelling value proposition and solution and saw very significant growth there."

While Amazon does not break down its AWS revenues specifically, it categorises it with advertising services under "other" in its financial results.

Revenues from the AWS-inclusive other category lifted to $1.594bn in the first six months of 2013, up from $974m in the same period a year before.

In the UK, Amazon has come under fire from lawmakers over its alleged tax avoidance.