Earlier this year the UK government set out its ‘Greening Government Commitments’ with the aim of building sustainability into all central government departments. It has now set out how ICT will be used to achieve these aims in a report called ‘Greening Government: ICT Strategy’. The report and associated documents are available here.
The document sets out the green ICT commitments and actions that central government departments and their agencies will take over the next four years. The strategy takes into account the dual role of ICT as both part of the problem and the solution – enabling a reduction in carbon emissions in the way government operates and provides services.
Greening the ICT infrastructure
The report considers four areas of greening the IT operation itself, much of which has already been proposed in previous publications on the subject.
In terms of operations, the report reaffirms the use of a government applications store, consolidating data centres and the use of cloud computing, better management of end-user devices, and migration to the Public Services Network (PSN).
The government is looking to work with suppliers to ensure greener design and manufacture.
In procurement, consideration of both financial and green total costs of ownership.
Ensure the reuse or refurbishment of surplus equipment – for instance in donating surplus equipment to benefit “Big Society” initiatives.
Exploit ICT to Green government operations
The government wants to ensure that ICT is used to enable change, such as:
encouraging end-users to use ICT more efficiently
reducing travel through teleconferencing and collaboration tools
using less consumables, such as paper
streamlining business operations
promoting smarter ways of working, including flexible and remote working.
Exploiting ICT to Green public services
The Government believes it is essential to transform public services to make them more sustainable, which means a fundamental shift in the way services are delivered.
Under the digital and transformation agenda, there has already been progress in this area, for instance in making it possible to pay the council tax online, access local information via texts and information maps and make hospital and doctors’ surgery appointments via the internet, etc.
The strategy document also gives a new organisational structure for delivering green ICT in central government and has come up with tools and a methodology for assessing progress.
The Green ICT Maturity Assessment Model is a framework to benchmark progress across the whole of government. Each government department and office is required to track and report its maturity level, which covers ICT Services, ICT Technology, ICT Change and Exploiting ICT.
It’s quite a detailed document, but I’m not sure how much further it takes us than has been published already. It primarily sets out what needs to be done, rather than how it’s going to achieve it, so a lot will be down to the on-going assessment of departmental progress to ensure they continue with their own green initiatives.
There is, though, a specific list of commitments and actions and delivery timescales at the end of the report. It gives a number of checkpoints through to 2015 that departments, and the government as a whole, will need to meet.
The most reassuring thing is that the use of ICT as an enabler is prominent in the strategy. The government has made it clear that it sees IT as part of the solution and not just the problem. Nor is there any mention of government ICT being carbon neutral, the nonsensical target of the previous administration, which has, hopefully, been quietly dropped.