Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Greening UK Government ICT Report

The UK Government have released their second annual "Greening Government: ICT Annual Report" (UK Cabinet Office, July 2013). This 19 page report is available in PDF and Microsoft Word. There is also an ODT version offered, but I was unable to open the document. It is curious that the report is not simply offered as a web page. The document is better designed than last year. Appended are the highlights. Curiously I could find no mention of education or training of staff in green ICT in the report.

4 Key highlights

Implementing the strategy

Over the past year we have made significant progress in implementing the Greening Government ICT strategy. Not only have the roadmap and maturity model been adopted across government departments, but these departments now have plans in place to reach level 3 of the model, the government target is to meet level 3 by 2015. The average green IT maturity score for departments is now 2.9 compared to 2.4 last year.
The Green ICT Delivery Unit (GDU)
A forum of government and wider public sector green IT sustainability leads. It’s primary function is to lead the development of the Greening Government ICT Strategy and drive forward its implementation.

Progress has been made in measuring our technology related energy usage and in signing up to the EU Code of Conduct. The Green ICT Delivery Unit (GDU) continues to drive efficiencies and is looking to modernise ways of working using technology to reduce travel, improve collaboration and find better ways to reuse and recycle IT equipment.
Data centres
With the increase in the use of online services for government transactions, data centres are a key focus of the GDU and government’s green IT strategy. Four government departments have endorsed the EU’s Code of Conduct for Data Centres1 over the past year and a number of other organisations are progressing towards this goal. In addition a number of data centres used by suppliers to government are now registered as participants under the Code.

Defra is currently working to design guidance for buyers on effective practice for procuring energy efficient data centre services and ensuring sustainability has a high profile in contract management for the increasing number of cloud hosting services being used. The guidance has been discussed with Intellect, the UK industry body
representing both larger industry players and hundreds of smaller companies, and this is being coordinated with input from other government stakeholders. There have also been discussions with the European Commission via its EU wide Green Public Procurement process2.

Recycling and reducing waste
IT Recycling
The GPS agreement was used to dispose of 66,448 items, of which 33,514 were resold, generating £405,881.68.  A further 8738 items were able to be donated, further reducing the items sent for disposal.
Recycling of IT is key to achieving efficiencies and being greener. The Government Procurement Service (GPS) offers organisations a method for recycling IT assets.  The service agreement has been used by at least 33 bodies including schools, councils, agencies and government departments.
Currently work is underway in the GPS to refresh the service agreement to increase the financial benefits. This will focus on money raised from the recovery and sale of components plus that of rare and valuable raw materials, and the sustainability benefits, for example, reducing waste sent to landfill or for incineration.  

Public service delivery
In the last year the Government Digital Service published the Government Digital Strategy. This was followed by the publication of individual digital strategies by government departments. These strategies are fundamental to shifting government’s approach to interacting with citizens and businesses. The shift will need to be supported by the right technologies and systems to make the most efficient use of hardware and power. Digital by default also reduces the environmental impact of physical and paper based processes by using technology to create more cost effective, efficient and user-centred online services.

The move to digital by default is crucial as shown by the shift to online in HMRC which has seen more than 80 per cent of HMRC’s tax returns submitted via the internet. These online submissions have resulted in a big paper saving alongside cutting the carbon emissions by 760 tonnes. The use of different channels like SMS for alerts, have also played their part in reducing paper. Streamlining processes has also improved sustainability and efficiency, HMRC now send one Tax Credits award notice to joint households, for example, whereas previously each person in a household would have received a separate letter.3

Exploiting collaborative tools
Departments continue to maintain effective working whilst reducing business travel by conducting their business via video, web and teleconferencing. The Home Office extended to all staff members its departmental contract for teleconferencing facilities (this was previously only available to a small number of staff). MOD increased its use of videoconferencing and teleconferencing as part of its travel budget cuts and efficiencies. Peer-to-peer instant messaging is now available and a peer-to-peer webcam trial is underway. These tools and other methods of remote working were used to help reduce travel by government employees during the Olympic games.

The Public Services Network (PSN) continues to drive sustainable savings and efficiencies by removing duplicate network connections, providing simpler procurement and greater competition, and allowing public sector employees to work in more flexible, collaborative ways.  PSN creates a common network of networks and a more open and competitive telecommunications marketplace for the UK public sector.  It provides assured networks, based on industry standards, over which government can safely share services, including many G-Cloud services, to collaborate in new ways, substantially reducing the cost of communication services across UK Government and enabling new, joined-up and shared public services.

This year we have worked closely with colleagues in academia and are grateful to the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)4 for sharing use of its tools to record the use of energy from operating ICT. We have also discussed our plans and sought and received feedback from Industry through Intellect events. Colleagues in local government and the National Health Service (NHS) sit on the GDU and share knowledge about green IT which helps others learn effective practices.
2 The European equivalent of the UK’s Government Buying Standards, which identify sustainability requirements for public procuring authorities.
From: Greening Government: ICT Annual Report, UK Cabinet Office, July 2013

No comments: