Coalition lets public keep an eye on government waste in real time

While Whitehall goes on and on about cutting down on carbon footprints and energy waste, cynics may think it’s another case of do as we say, not as we do. With solar initiatives, Barclays-sponsored cycling and a little green tree placed to the right of the new-ish Conservatives logo it’s something Cameroon, Clegg and Co want to be seen as doing something about.

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition is launching a scheme to show the public it is putting money where its mouth is, at least in terms of domestic footprints – it wants to cut carbon emissions in its own departments by 10 percent over the space of a year. 

Climate change minister Greg Barker has introduced a scheme which will allow the public to track government energy waste in real time. He said: “For too long Whitehall has been guilty of preaching and not acting on efficiency. Slashing energy waste in government needs to happen fast, as much for tackling the public finances as for climate change.

“Shining a spotlight on what’s being used in real time will help staff change their behaviour and the public hold us to account. We said we’d be the greenest government ever and we mean it.” 

After all, any primary school kid will tell you Blue and Yellow are supposed to make Green. It’s a bold move as those in the civil service are notoriously ruled by bureaucratic paper pushing and it will take a major paradigm shift to get the old stuffy grey-suits out of old habits.

Whether making Whitehall accountable to the public will actually make any difference will remain to be seen.

We won’t know the exact ins and outs but we will be able to keep a close eye on energy metres placed at all HQs. Fixing and fiddling is a favourite past time of government figureheads and their minions – there’s always a chance, as with everything, that this is pure spin.

Either way, the figures will be available for viewing on each department website, or at Data.gov.uk.