Just 35% of DDaT leaders see sustainability as a top priority

Just 35% of Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) leaders see sustainability as the top priority for government according to new research by Kin and Carta and Government Transformation Magazine. 

The Greener Government Report, which combines quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with over 100 DDaT leaders in the UK civil service, reveals that Net Zero was ranked joint third in departmental priorities. Promoting economic growth was ranked as the top priority (43%) while delivering effective public services came in second (36%).   

Despite most ( 74%) agreeing that it is important for their department to achieve their Net Zero target, it is clear that the issue is being deprioritised.  

A number of DDaT leaders interviewed as part of the research attested to this. Ian Benson, Chief Operating Officer, Disclosure and Barring Service, said the area is mainly "viewed through the lens of operational sustainability, keeping an eye on environmental factors is secondary." 

A sustainability professional from a large government department noted that sustainability was not listed among the Treasury’s nine priorities at a presentation he attended last year. “For sustainability and climate change in general, that’s pretty typical.”

Explaining the why 

The fact there is no centrally agreed timetable for all departments to reach Net Zero, nor specific roadmap deadlines, has led to the issue being pushing down the list of departmental priorities, the report finds. 

As Natalie Jones, Director of the GOV.UK One Login Programme, Government Digital Service, said: “It is too easy for successive leadership to kick the can down the road for the next people when Net Zero is set at 2050.”

Additionally, a lack of common language over sustainability is also contributing to a lack of direction and prioritisation, the report notes. 

Terry Makewell, Chief Technology Officer, UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) - which provides the Royal Navy and others with expert advice on seabed mapping, safe navigation and route marine geospatial data said sustainability should be treated like security: "It should be everyone’s problem and part of the day job, then you don’t get into a discussion about priorities. Every time you’re on a piece of work, sustainability is part of it." 

Government Data Forum

Also Read