Buying sustainable government and then turning it off

Cabinet Office minister, Tom Watson MP, has been appointed to take the lead on improving the way government can achieve sustainable operations and procurement objectives across departments.

Building on the recent announcement to slash the energy consumption of government computers and data centres, the Cabinet Office minister has published a detailed delivery plan to achieve more sustainable operations across Whitehall.

The plan includes the introduction of IT management systems to assist the switching off of PCs when not in use to save energy.

The delivery plan has been compiled by the new Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement, which is based within the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), in conjunction with departments.

It focuses on the actions that have to be made in order to meet the targets set for sustainable operations on the government estate. As parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, Tom Watson will lead and ensure CESP has a cross-departmental role that delivers on sustainable targets.

Speaking about the plan, Watson said, "A lower carbon economy is probably the single biggest issue facing us all today, and government has a crucial leadership role in limiting the effects of climate change.

"That is why we have set ourselves targets to deliver carbon reductions from our offices, our cars, waste, recycling and water consumption."

Nigel Smith, chief executive of the OGC, said: "This plan marks significant progress for government. We recognise that there is still a long way to go for government to achieve its sustainability goals; but departments are to be congratulated on a very real step forward, both in terms of the actions they have initiated, and in ensuring that there is a much clearer and more comprehensive picture of the impact of those actions. This means we can now identify much more readily where we need to concentrate more effort in the future."

The government has already set in place a number of initiatives to assist departments in meeting the targets, including producing guidance on how the £160bn spent on public sector goods and services can safeguard the environment. The High Performing Property initiative is also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the management and use of government estate, to achieve more sustainable operations and achieve savings of up to £1.5bn by 2013.

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