Implementing the Collection and Reduction of Federal Suppliers’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions at the General Services Administration (GSA)

Overview

On October 9, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, which called on Federal agencies to “establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the Federal Government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for federal agencies.”  As part of this Executive Order, agencies were required to set baselines and targets for their scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; furthermore, the Order specifically directed the General Services Administration (GSA), in coordination with other key agencies, to assess the feasibility of requiring suppliers to measure and reduce supply chain GHG emissions.

Background

Executive Order 13514 required the GSA, in coordination with the Department of Defense (DoD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other key agencies to provide the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) with recommendations regarding the feasibility of tracking and reducing GHG emissions from the federal supply chain and improving supply chain sustainability.  In order to assess the ability of the government to identify, track and reduce relevant Scope 3 emissions, the GSA tasked Katie Miller (previously of GSA and currently of Adaptive Futures) with forming, chairing and convening a federal interagency working group; in addition to assessing the feasibility of tracking Scope 3 emissions, the working group was also challenged with developing recommendations for fulfilling the requirements of the Executive Order.

Solution

Katie brought together 60 leaders from various agencies across the federal government, and together they determined that it was indeed feasible for federal agencies to work with their suppliers to voluntarily disclose the information necessary for tracking and reducing Scope 3 federal supply chain GHG emissions.  At the time, many suppliers didn’t collect emissions inventory data, and therefore, the Committee determined that a phased approach should be used in having suppliers voluntarily disclose their emissions information.  By implementing the recommendations through a voluntary phased approach, federal agencies along with their suppliers, would have time for education, training, coordination and outreach, thus ensuring that all stakeholders could meet the requirements for successful execution of the Executive Order.  

Upon completion of the Committee’s work, Katie was tasked with presenting the recommendations to more than 100 federal agency representatives in order to achieve consensus.  Because gaps existed in detailing how federal agencies could integrate the recommendations into the procurement process, Katie conducted research on current trends in sustainable supply chain management and formulated policy recommendations on the subject.  Katie received overwhelming support in favor of the Committee’s recommendations for implementing the Executive Order; accordingly, the GSA released Executive Order 13514 Section 13: Recommendations for Vendor and Contractor Emissions in April of 2010 which detailed the Committees findings and recommendations.

Katie’s hard work and subject matter expertise enabled the GSA to have a big-win in implementing the goals of Executive Order 13514.  Through the implementation of this Executive Order, federal agencies began collecting and reducing GHG emissions associated with more than $500 billion per year in the production of goods and services for the federal government.