Buzz of the Week:

The convenient truth

Earth Day started in the late 1960s as a way of highlighting environmental issues.

But it seems like environmental issues have finally become real. That is particularly true of information technology. For most of us, green computing wasn’t on the radar screen even a year ago.

It is unclear what made the green issue click this year. Certainly, we must credit the perseverance of the green believers.

Partly, it was a matter of timing.

But there is also a palpable sense that times have changed. Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” resonated with the public.

The movie made $367,311 and won scores of awards including an Academy Award. Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

The issue of green technology has touched the IT world. Suddenly, people are thinking of the power needed to run PCs, laptops and smart phones, not to mention data centers.

Green technology made Gartner’s list of the top 10 technologies for 2008. “Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers as the impact on power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny,” Gartner reported.

The real question is: How much energy does IT consume, anyway? It’s more than most of us probably thought. A recent report by CIO Insight found that IT is responsible for 2 percent of global emissions, most of that coming from PCs and monitors. A 2003 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that Internet usage accounted for 3 percent of U.S. electricity consumption, reported.

We can tell the government IT market is thinking about this in a different way. When the 1105 Government Information Group, the parent organization of Federal Computer Week, decided to hold an event around green technology, people were excited about the opportunity to come together to focus on the issue.

The Buzz contenders

#2: GSA’s Mitchell calls it a career
Mary Mitchell has spent the past eight years at the General Services Administration as a leader of e-government and the past two years spearheading financial management issues. Last week she announced that she would retire soon after the new year after 32 years as a federal employee. Mitchell told Federal Computer Week’s Jason Miller that when she came to GSA, she told her boss at the time, Marty Wagner, that she would retire in June 2007. She was six months off her prediction. “My husband retired years ago from the Air Force and got sick of waiting for me, so he sold my house and moved to South Carolina,” she said. “So now I’m joining him.” She said she stayed the extra time because she wanted to ensure that the foundation for the Financial Management Line of Business initiative was in place.

Mitchell has been a leader in the e-government and federal financial management arenas. She is the FM LOB’s program manager and the Financial Systems Integration Office’s executive. She is also deputy associate administrator of the Office of Technology Strategy in GSA’s Office of Governmentwide Policy.

#3:The Army finally gets a CIO
The Senate finally confirmed Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson as Army chief information officer. It’s been nine months since the White House announced his nomination.

Sorenson replaces the former Army CIO, retired Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, who left the post in August.

Sorenson has more than 20 years’ experience in military information technology acquisition and has directed numerous science and technology integration programs for the Army.

Before his nominatio as Army CI , he was deputy of acquisition and systems management at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology.

#4: Doan’s Halloween
Yes, we just got through Thanksgiving, but we want to briefly flash back to Halloween briefly. The thing about GSA Administrator Lurita Doan is that everybody seems to have an opinion. One thing she can’t be accused of is being like every other GSA administrator.

A case in point was her Halloween tour of GSA’s main-office halls on a Segway, dressed as a witch and wishing GSAers a happy Halloween. Was it a trick or a treat? We’ll let you be the judge.

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