Government needs greener IT, MPs say

The government needs to strongly improve its use of green IT and select less harmful technology, according to a parliamentary committee.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said it was time for Westminster to be more ambitious when it comes to green technology, in spite of some significant plans already devised.

"Unless the Government gets its house in order taxpayers could end up paying a heavy price to buy carbon credits from the private sector," said Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee in the new 'Greening government' report, referring to technology and other aspects of the government's attitude to the environment.

The report praised some of the changes that have taken place so far, including the development of departmental self assessment green scorecards, as well as action plans.

Referring to the “encouraging” Greening Government IT strategy of July 2008, which focuses on sustainability, it added that “the chief information officers and chief technology officers have responded well to the first set of targets”.

It also supported government plans to create a ‘Green ICT scorecard’, which assesses how green issues have an impact on operations and customers, how IT contributes to strategy, and how efficient IT is reducing carbon footprint.

Nevertheless, it said the targets “must be increased”.

"The [Greening Government ICT] strategy itself acknowledges there is a need to work with departments and industry to explore and invest in radical green ICT solutions for the ICT problem, but also consider issues relating to the life cycle impact and disposal of old IT hardware," it stated.

The report called for a number of steps to be taken.

Firstly, procurement cycles needed to be extended to a minimum of four years, it said. When equipment is eventually replaced, buying choices should be based on the carbon emissions of the “production, manufacturing and full lifecycle” of the technology, rather than simply electricity required.

Equipment purchased should be of high standards, it said, without excessive packaging.

The government must also stop staff members using more than one PC, it said.

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