Defra migrates 10,000 staff to eco-laptops

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is making progress on its Renew IT programme with plans to move 10,000 civil servants to energy-saving laptops.

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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is making progress on its Renew IT programme with plans to move 10,000 civil servants to energy-saving laptops.

The move to laptops, which started in June, is planned for completion by the end of December. It will cover all staff within the department and its agencies Natural England and Animal Health, with the cost included within the department's outsourcing contract with IBM.

Helen Ghosh, Defra's permanent secretary, said the agency will look at recycling its kit, and introducing laptops "which are produced in a very sustainable chain but which also have some of those key up to date facilities to make sure they are sustainable in use.

Smith told the Commons' Environmental Audit Committee, in evidence published on 14 July 2008 that the government is looking at how it manages servers across government in an effort to reduce power consumption.

Nigel Smith, chief executive of Office of Government Commerce, said the government is looking at the supply and management of IT equipment. "If we have a look at the IT equipment in government, actually a lot of the carbon footprint does not come from the power usage of IT, it actually comes from the air conditioning to allow IT to be used, for instance on servers."

The government is also turning to the IT industry for hardware with reduced energy consumption. "We have got very good strategic relationship management processes with the IT industry, we deal on a regular basis with the top 12 suppliers of IT into government, and we are looking at how they can help development of their hardware to meet our requirement for lower energy-demand IT equipment."

Ghosh added Defra will reduce the number of IT devices which any individual can have. Currently she has a fixed personal computer in her office, a laptop for home use and a Blackberry for mobile use. "In the new world I will be able to have one item, which is a laptop which I shall carry to and from on my bicycle and plug in at the office or carry home and use at home," she said.

Defra has donated a "substantial amount" of hardware to the UK Borders Agency, as a result of having hardware to spare through its upgrading programme. "So we are re-using within government some IT," she added.

On 17 July, the Cabinet Office released Greening Government ICT, which recommended steps departments should take to improve their performance in this area.

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