On Wednesday the UK coalition government announced its ICT strategy. It falls into four areas:
Reducing waste and project failure and stimulating economic growth
Creating a common ICT infrastructure
Using ICT to enable and deliver change
A lot of the content has been referred to before, but there are 30 specific action plans with delivery timescales of either less than six months, within 6-12 months or within 12-24 months. Given the lack of detail of how the plans are going to be achieved, it reads as much as a wish list as a strategy.
Reflecting the government’s overall focus, of the 30 actions detailed, 14 are in the ‘reducing waste/product failure’ section, 11 in the ‘creating a common ICT infrastructure’ and just 5 in the ‘Using ICT to enable and deliver change’ category
In the governance section there’s a diagram of a new governance structure, but to the untrained eye it’s not clear exactly what’s new here.
When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the main action is that the Government will to publish a separate Greening Government ICT strategy within six months. This will set out how it will achieve reductions in operational costs and carbon footprints and will include the use of collaboration and mobile working technologies.
The other action to address the carbon footprint of government ICT is the setting up of a programme to reduce the cost of data centres across the estate, leading to a 35% reduction in costs over five years. The programme will be set up in the next six months.
Well we will have to see the detail when it comes in the green ICT strategy, but so far it’s not looking good.
The UK is legally committed to significant reductions in carbon emissions, so the UK government not only needs to lead by example, but also needs to be clear about the objectives. Even when emissions reductions are mentioned in this document they are quickly subsumed within a cost-saving umbrella. The UK government has a duty to reduce emissions and should make this an end in itself.
The other main omission is that although there is a reference to green ICT helping reduce travel costs (through mobile flexibility) there is no overall recognition of how ICT can help reduce emissions in the public sector as a whole. Unfortunately, since ‘Using ICT to enable and deliver change’ is the area that gets gets least focus, ICT as a green enabler gets lost altogether.