UK Claims World’s First “Mandated” Green IT Targets

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An update to the Greening Government ICT strategy this July will include 10 “mandated targets”.. but will that mandate be backed with penalties?

The UK has become the first country in the world to have mandated green IT targets for government CIOs, according to the Cabinet Office deputy champion for green ICT.

Speaking at the Green IT ’09 Conference in London this week, government green ICT specialist Catalina McGregor, said that the UK has mandated 10 targets out of a wider list of 18 formulated by members of the UK CIO Council.

“We are the only country to have mandated targets for green ICT in the world,” she said.

The publication of the Greening Government ICT strategy report in July last year, resulted in 18 steps for the government CIOs to deliver against. The 26 CIOs on the CIO council then formulated action plans against the 18 steps which they finished five days ago.

“The CIOs themselves agreed to mandate 10 of those 18 – that is quite groundbreaking – that council is normally a bit of a dragons den,” said McGregor. “We didn’t expect to get all the CIOs in let alone Serious and Organised Crime, GCHQ and folk like that – we have managed to do that which for us in groundbreaking.

McGregor added that the she was hoping to be able to introduce even stronger targets in the coming years.

“Hopefully we can raise the bar now with a little bit more brutality for next year but the ministers have to sign that off of course,” she said.

However when questioned on stage by The 451 Group analyst Andy Lawrence  on what exactly the word “mandate” met in the context of the green IT targets – whether compliance would be enforced with penalties for example – McGregor said that would be made clear when the new mandates were announced in an update to the Greening Government ICT report due to be published in July.

“The minister is going to be making a statement in July about that so I cannot actually comment – that is Tom Watson from the Cabinet Office – we will explain the naming and shaming then,” she said.

Lawrence also asked whether the government mandates could for example result in someone being fired for failing to comply. “I cannot say that – that is up for the minister to discuss,” she said.

It is not clear which 10 out of the 18 tasks have been mandated but the full list ranges from “removing active screen savers” to “specify low-power consumption CPUs and high-efficiency Power Supply Units (80 percent conversion or better)”. A full list of the 18 tasks can be found on the Greening Government ICT website.

McGregor also outlined how the UK is working with other governments to agree on international standards and regulations on green IT. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is holding an event in Denmark, in May to set policy for green IT.

“We are looking to coordinate our approaches on an international scale. The Americans are still leading when it comes to the procurement policy around EPEAT – its one of the best in the world – and they are expanding that to mobile phones now and also printers and screens, it is getting wider,” she said.

McGregor added that she will also be attending another event held by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in May to set standards and best practice around green IT.

The government’s Greening Government ICT strategy was announced in July 2008 by minister for digital engagemeent Tom Watson. Overall targets agreed at the time included that “energy consumption of Government ICT will be Carbon Neutral by 2012 and by 2020, Government ICT will be carbon neutral across its lifecycle”.