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Report claims Whitehall progress on green ICT

03/03/15

Annual assessment qualifies achievements with shortcomings in some areas and challenges for next steps

'Making progress but still a lot to do' is the message to emerge from the latest report on central government's progress in taking a greener approach to its use of ICT.

Fingers on keyboardGreening Government ICT 2014, published by the Cabinet Office, says good progress has been made on implementing the Greening Government ICT strategy. But it also points to areas in which there has been less success and to other policy areas that are raising new challenges for the environmental agenda.

The main success has been that the average level of maturity for greening ICT - an assessment of how deeply sustainability is embedded in information systems, has risen from 2.6 to 2.9. Nine of the 16 departments achieved Level 3 maturity, in which they could show sustainability practices were being practiced, and three achieved 10 or more of the key target outcomes from the roadmap. The star performers were the Department for Health and HM Treasury.

Average ICT energy consumption for each member of staff had also been reduced from 1,467kWh/y to 1,091kWh/y.

Close to targets

Departments performed well towards meeting some of the key target outcomes, with more than 70% passing for procurement, print and recycling; but were much less impressive for other areas, with a little over 20% passing for network rationalisation, data centre and storage efficiency and storage rationalisation.

The report makes clear there are some broad issues that have to be addressed to sustain the progress. Departments and suppliers do not always collect the required data, and the latter group sometimes charges for doing so. One way of dealing with this could be to ensure sustainability reporting requirements are written into the terms and conditions of any new contracts.

There is also a problem in ensuring that officials responsible for procurement, architecture and project management have the full awareness of green issues. The report says there is a need for more training and to link the skills with those under the Government Digital Service (GDS) technology function.

Forward priorities

This is related to one of its priorities in moving forward, joining up with the GDS in developing government as a platform. Others are to find ways to ensure the greening agenda fits with increasing procurement of services through the G-Cloud and Digital Services Frameworks, and use of open source technology and agile techniques.

Jeremy Boss, chair of the Green ICT Delivery Unit, says in the report's forward: "Whilst we have come a long way, there remain significant opportunities and challenges in weaving sustainability through the changes underway to modernise government, to use Cloud services through central frameworks and to digitise customer services, whilst managing resources and improving the way we work."

Image: Reategui12 through Wikimedia under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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