Creativity is the name of the game in making the government procurement process more sustainable to address climate change concerns, said Ann Dunkin, chief information officer (CIO) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), today at ACT-IAC’s Climate Change Summit 2023 event.

“Procurement is not the most creative part of the Federal government for good reason, because they’re there to enforce the law,” Dunkin said.

“But we need to help our procurement teams be more creative,” she continued. “They’re not going to jump in and say let me encourage creative solutions for vendors – that’s not their job. The IT teams and others need to figure out how to do that.”

The push for a more sustainable procurement process stems from an 2021 executive order that has prioritized actions in the Federal procurement process to align with addressing climate concerns.

Although Dunkin noted that there is room for improvement when it comes to the government procurement process, she also described how deeply rooted sustainability is to her agency’s mission.

“Sustainability is so deeply ingrained in our mission that I’m not even sure who actually has the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) title at the DOE, because everybody is doing that,” she said.

As part of the push to invest in cleaner technologies, Dunkin said DoE has its national laboratories “looking at solar power, wind power, geothermal, looking at hydrogen – all sorts of different types of power that will help us move away from our carbon-based economy.”

“There’s a lot of work being done in data center sustainability as well,” the CIO said. Some of the simpler solutions that she talked about involving using less energy to cool down server rooms.

“I’m pleased every time I walk into data center that is about 75 degrees – that’s really good – it’s a myth that your data centers need to be 64 degrees. Those computers are perfectly capable of operating at higher temperatures,” she said.

“All those things can be built into not only your IT operations, but your day to day operations to make a more sustainable department or agency,” Dunkin said.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.