E-procurement and cloud form centrepiece of government's green IT strategy

By Graeme Burton
13 Sep 2012 View Comments
Department of Energy & Climate Change

Department of Energy & Climate Change CIO Jennifer Rigby has said that e-procurement and cloud will drive the government's green IT strategy.

Rigby is also chair of the government's green ICT delivery unit (GDU), a cross-departmental, pan-public sector body charged with driving both efficiencies and savings from public-sector IT.

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"The GDU is all about pulling together the policy for government around green ICT. We are also there to share knowledge," said Rigby. The GDU was responsible for developing the 'Greening Government' ICT strategy, which is linked to the government's cloud strategy, end-user devices and capability strategies.

She added: "Government ICT strategy is there to deliver better public services at a lower cost; to improve productivity through re-use and sharing; to reduce waste through harmonising IT infrastructure such as PSN [public services network]; and to make us more transparent around what we do with ICT, how we use it, its impact and its cost."

The strategy is focused on embedding green principles into the IT infrastructure and the procurement cycle, such as buying in a "lower-carbon way" – for example, using servers that conform to the power efficiency standards the GDU is devising.

"It's also about power-management processes and embedding those in what we do," said Rigby. "It could even be simple stuff like using video conferencing instead of travelling or taking a manual process and computerising it – using the transformative nature of IT to reduce carbon emissions and waste."

Rigby was speaking at the Efficient ICT:2012 conference at Westminster in Central London.

Government, she added, is engaged in a process of data-centre rationalisation in a bid to both cut costs and to become "greener". However, while the power unit equivalent (PUE), a standard measurement of data-centre power consumption, has been reduced, at around 2.0 it is still between 25 per cent and 40 per cent greater than the 1.2-1.5 PUE metrics that the best data centres in the private sector can claim.

"The strategy does not sit in isolation. It works with the other ICT strategy strands [in government] to deliver a greener ICT infrastructure," said Rigby.

Rigby also claimed that, despite only being launched in March 2011, the GDU's energy-efficiency strategy has helped government ICT save some 232,000 tons of carbon and around £1.3m annually so far.

However, the fact that a number of government departments have already hit their "key target outcomes" for efficiency suggests that the bar has been set too low. Six departments have already hit five of their 10 key target outcomes, while eight others are already on the way to achieving all 10.

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