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Greening the Supply Chain

In October 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. This EO calls on federal agencies to set and meet specific sustainability related targets throughout their operations. 

As part of this undertaking, GSA is leveraging its purchasing power to promote sustainable procurement in recognition of the critical importance of making the federal government more efficient and maximizing opportunities for cost savings. GSA is increasing its offerings of sustainable products and services, providing training, and making it easier to find GSA's green offerings.

As part of the EO’s requirements, GSA partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to lead an interagency working group, known as the Section 13 Interagency Working Group, to determine whether contractor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be used in the federal procurement  process to make the government’s supply chain more sustainable.

In June 2010, the Section 13 Working Group issued a report, Recommendations for Vendor and Contractor Emissions, stating that sustainability considerations, especially GHG emissions data, should be used in the procurement process through a phased incentive approach. The scale and breadth of the government’s purchasing power has a significant impact, not only on federal government’s environmental footprint, but also on the federal supply chain.

To implement the report’s recommendations, GSA established the Federal Supply Chain Emissions Program Management Office (PMO). The PMO, administratively managed by Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), fully leverages GSA’s business and acquisition expertise. Its initiatives include the Sustainability in Procurement Fellowship program, the Sustainable Supply Chain Community of Practice on, the Use of Vendor and Contractor GHG Emissions Considerations in Procurements Initiative, and the Small Business Greenhouse Gas (GHG ) Emissions Inventory Pilot.

The Small Business Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Pilot was launched as a three year pilot project with over 80 small business participants. Over the last two years, participation steadily declined. Because low participation made the program cost prohibitive, in November 2012, GSA decided to end the pilot early. The collected data will be used to understand the capabilities and assistance required by small businesses to inventory and report GHG emissions data.

The PMO also manages the Section 13 Interagency Working Group, which is moving forward in answering the “areas of further exploration” outlined in the report, as well as coordinating with the Section 9 Interagency Working Group on guidance for inclusion of vendor GHG emissions data, or Scope 3 supply chain emissions in the Federal GHG Accounting and Reporting Guidance. The Section 13 Working Group has stood up several sub-working groups to focus on specific topics. 

A number of companies have already proven that reducing GHG emissions across their supply chain is beneficial to their bottom line, reduces risks and improves operational efficiency. The PMO works collaboratively with industry partners, academia and non-profits to harness existing lessons learned, and identify how best to leverage procurement to reduce GHG emissions, maximize cost savings, and increase efficiency across the federal supply chain.

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