Most public sector IT managers ignorant on green IT targets

Sixty percent of public sector IT managers are not aware of the government’s Greening ICT Strategy and the targets they need to reach, according to a survey.

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Sixty percent of public sector IT managers are not aware of the government’s Greening ICT Strategy and the targets they need to reach, according to a survey.

The Greening ICT Strategy calls for government IT to be carbon neutral by 2012, with office carbon emissions down 11.5 percent by 2011.

Environmental charity Global Action Plan, which is working with Socitm to secure a £1 billion fund to overhaul IT to reduce emissions, estimates that information and communication technology (ICT) accounts for one-fifth of the Government's carbon emissions. But the charity has found a lack of awareness in the public sector in reducing emissions in IT.

The charity surveyed 173 government IT managers to produce the report, titled "The Path to Green Government", which was commissioned by networking giant Cisco.

The lowest levels of awareness were in education, with 68 percent naive to the plans, healthcare (58 percent) and local government (53 percent). Central government had the highest level of awareness, with just over half – 59 percent – conscious of the government targets.

Of those who know of the Greening ICT Strategy, nearly one-third said that they had made no changes to their own ICT usage and procurement, and had no plans to make any changes. Two-thirds say they are concerned about their ability to achieve the targets.

Only 13 percent of respondents calculate the carbon footprint of their ICT activities. Only 22 percent have set internal green targets.

However, the report found pockets of excellence within the government, when it comes to sustainable ICT. The government should be congratulated for its "proactive leadership role" in developing the Greening ICT Strategy. Catalina McGregor, government deputy champion of the Cabinet Office's CIO/CTO Council Green ICT Delivery Group, told BBC that a report from her office due for release in late August will comprehensively detail how each department is doing in unprecedented detail, from intelligence departments all the way to museums.

Steve Palmer, president of public sector user group Socitm, said there were a "a few brave souls with broad-backs who are taking the lead on demonstrating that green IT is not all talk but includes solid, substantive action."

Palmer also said the environmental drive will also help the government to cut costs. Most public sector bodies, he said, cannot afford to continue as normal and will need to restructure the way that services are delivered.

"Green ICT initiatives cannot just reduce travel, enable flexible working and reduce energy consumption; they can also improve the quality and delivery of frontline services. What is needed is greater understanding and collaboration between organisations to put these innovations into practice.”