23 July 2008 | Paul Snell
Central government purchasers will have to specify environmental criteria in IT tenders from January next year.
The demand is part of the government's Greening Government ICT strategy, which aims to make government IT carbon neutral by 2020. It is estimated IT produces 20 per cent of central government's total carbon emissions. The plan applies to both in-house and outsourced IT operations.
In addition to considering the carbon impact of purchases, which will follow guidance from the OGC, there will also be a reduction in the total number of computers and printers being used. Chief information officers in departments will also be encouraged to intercept tenders to check buyers are following plans and to review current IT contracts.
A green IT scorecard to help buyers benchmark criteria such as energy efficiency and disposal is currently being trialled. There will also be further work trying to improve industry supply chains through the power of public sector procurement.
Tom Watson, cabinet office minister, said in a statement: "We are the first government in the world to set out exactly what we are going to do to make our IT systems carbon neutral within four years. We won't achieve this just by offsetting, but by making serious changes to the way we do business."
Suppliers including the trade body Intellect and environmental campaign groups such as the Sustainable Development Commission welcomed the plan.