Power IT Down Day: A major success, but could be bigger

Blogger Brian Robinson wonders if government PC users could double the ambitious goals set for Power IT Down Day in 2011.

Given the response, momentum is obviously building. When pressed, Simmons said a participation of 25,000 or more would be reasonable. Feels a little wussy to me. As he said, this year’s total still came to less than 0.5 percent of the government PC user population. I would think at least 50,000 is a better target for 2011, wouldn’t you?

The organizers of Power IT Down Day, a yearly event that tries to convince government workers and agencies to do more to save energy, obviously need to get more ambitious.

They set a fairly conservative goal of 6,100 participants -- a 10 percent over 2009 -- but instead ended up with 17,639. The Wounded Warrior Project, which gets a contribution proportional to the size of the participation, will be banking a $60,000 check.

That’s about as successful as it gets for this kind of project, whose aim is to educate government about the money that can be saved just by turning off PCs and other computing devices when they are not being used. It seems that, despite the various mandates for agencies to reduce their energy use, substantial prodding is needed.

Tom Simmons, area vice president for the US public sector at Citrix Systems, one of the event’s sponsors, said that compared to three years ago when the event started, government overall is now much more aware of how much money it spends on powering electronic devices. Coming budget cuts will no doubt help focus minds even more.

However, as he also pointed out, policies in many government organizations weigh against savings. Managers tell their people to keep PCs and other devices turned on at night to facilitate security and other updates. Comments to the original Quick Study post made the same point. So there’s still a lot of convincing that needs to happen.

Citrix and the other event sponsors -- Intel, Hewlett Packard and GTSI -- obviously did a great job in getting the word out this year. A good number of press outlets carried something about it, and inside government such agencies as the General Services Administration and the Health and Human Services Department stepped up to publicize the effort to their employees and others.

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