Defra to scrap its desktops and handhelds

The Whitehall department hopes to cut power bills and CO2 emissions by ditching desktop and handheld computers in favour of a one-laptop-per-worker policy

A Whitehall department wants to scrap desktop and handheld computers in favour of lone laptops.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) hopes to cut power bills and CO2 emissions by introducing one laptop per worker.

Defra permanent secretary Helen Ghosh unveiled the plan as part of its Renew IT Programme to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, as revealed in its recent report.

Ghosh said: "One of the things we are doing through our Renew IT Programme is to reduce the number of pieces of IT equipment which any individual can have.

"I will feel this very much myself because at the moment I have a fixed PC in the office, a laptop I use at home and a BlackBerry, and in the new world I will be able to have one item, which is a laptop which I shall carry."

She added: "We are restricting in Defra the number of items individuals can have and also making sure we are not over-providing within our offices."

She said the department was also looking at sourcing machines through sustainable supply chains and achieving CO2 savings by measures such as turning off over-complicated screensavers and introducing automatic standby on more machines.

Second permanent under secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Ian Andrews, told the committee the ministry would reduce the number of machines through the Defence Information Infrastructure project to rationalise about 300 systems.

Government chief information office John Suffolk is expected to launch a national green IT strategy at the end of this month.