OFFICE OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS
PUBLIC BUILDINGS SERVICE
U.S. GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
UNITED STATES SENATE
JULY 11, 2002
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am Debra Yap, Director of the Environmental Strategies and Safety Division in the General Services Administration=s (GSA=s) Public Buildings Service. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss what the Federal Government is doing to ensure the Federal procurement of recycled-content products, and what can be done to improve these efforts. With me is Matthew Urnezis from the Federal Supply Service, Pacific Rim Region.
Section 6002 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) established the Federal buy-recycled program. Executive Order (EO) 13101, “Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition” expands, strengthens, and promotes the Federal Government's commitment to recycling, waste prevention and the acquisition of recycled content items, and environmentally preferable products, including biobased. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates products that should be purchased with recycled content. EPA identifies the products in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG) and provides recommendations for purchasing the products in Recovered Materials Advisory Notices (RMANs). The recommendations primarily pertain to the levels of recycled materials that the designated products should contain. For the purposes of this discussion, I will refer to products that meet the RMAN recommendations as CPG-compliant products.
Executive Order 13101 also established the Federal Environmental Executive who oversees implementation of Federal purchase of these products. Each year, the top six agencies, in terms of Federal procurement expenditures, are required to report CPG purchases to the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). The Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Transportation, and the General Services Administration were the agencies reporting in the March 2002 report on implementation for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999. These agencies account for more than 85% of total Federal procurement expenditures. Final numbers for 1999 indicate that of the $774 million spent on EPA designated products, $492 million, or 64%, was spent on CPG-compliant products.
Environmental stewardship is the responsibility of each Federal agency and GSA takes this role seriously. This commitment is reflected in our strategic plan, performance measures, and our active Affirmative Procurement Program. GSA has the mission of helping other federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services, and management policies. I would like to relate to you how GSA has attempted to leverage its unique mission to promote the Federal procurement of recycled-content products. We have sought to encourage and promote environmental stewardship both internally and governmentwide and have relied on our relationships with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE), the White House Task Force on Waste Prevention and Recycling, and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). While I will discuss the efforts of the GSA=s Public Buildings Service (PBS), Federal Supply Service (FSS), and the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) separately, our efforts have been a coordinated response to promote Federal procurement of recycled-content products.
The Public Buildings Service (PBS)
The PBS mission is to deliver a superior workplace to the Federal worker and at the same time superior value to the American taxpayer. As the largest commercial-style real estate organization in the nation, PBS provides workspace for a million Federal employees nationwide, and real estate and related services to more than 100 Federal organizations. It controls approximately 40% of the Federal Government=s office space. PBS constructs, leases, manages, maintains, and protects office buildings, Federal court-houses, border stations, laboratories, data processing centers, warehouses, and child care centers. We consider three options to meet our client agency requirements for quality work environments: construction and acquisition of new facilities; repair and alteration of existing facilities; or leasing space from the private sector. Leveraging our role as the Federal Government=s landlord, PBS was able to integrate provisions into its leasing agreements for energy efficiency and sustainable design. Included is a mandatory provision addressing recycled-content products referencing the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Section 6002, and the EPA=s CPG program. In its role as a Property Manager for Federal buildings, PBS includes a clause requiring the use of recycled-content tissue paper in its janitorial services contracts. But PBS also provides design, acquisition, and construction of major federal capital projects such as courthouses. The Design Excellence Program Guide includes evaluation of an architect/engineer=s experience in energy conservation, pollution prevention, waste reduction, and the use of recovered materials as selection criteria. PBS has also formally incorporated the principles of sustainable design into its Facilities Standards for its building projects. This includes encouraging the use of recycled-content products and a list of the construction products from EPA=s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. My division and the GSA Environmental Executive continue to work closely with the Federal Environmental Executive, John Howard, and the White House Task Force on Waste Prevention and Recycling to ensure we are maximizing opportunities within PBS to promote the use of recycled-content products.
Federal Supply Service (FSS)
The Federal Supply Service (FSS) leverages the purchasing power of the Federal Government to provide Federal agencies with best value in commercial products and services. FSS programs provide customers with economical, efficient and effective service delivery, saving agencies time and administrative costs.
Through their supply system, FSS provides customers with access to more than 4 million professional services and commercial products. The business of FSS is entirely dependent on customer revenues. Because its services are non-mandatory, FSS must strive to maintain customer loyalty.
To assist customer agencies in their efforts to purchase recycled-content products, FSS has developed a number of useful tools. The Environmental Products and Services Guide, available at fss.gsa.gov/enviro, identifies CPG-compliant products using a “CPG” icon. It should be noted that this icon was homegrown as there is no standard logo or labeling practice. GSA developed the icon to make it easier, faster, and less costly for customer agencies to identify CPG-compliant products. This guide also provides the amount of recycled content in the product. Additionally, GSA=s Customer Supply Catalog identifies environmental attributes to include the specific percentage of recycled content.
The FSS website I just referenced also contains a wealth of environmental information, including applicable laws, regulations, Executive orders, and links to other agency sites. The CPG items are identified and a person using the site can click on a specific item and be connected to GSA Advantage! or the Schedules E-Library.
Using its online ordering system known as GSA Advantage!, FSS assists agencies looking for CPG-compliant products by adding a “CPG” icon to identify stock and special order items that are compliant. Stock and special order items include a wide range of paper products, including such items as copier and other office use paper, folders, binders, envelopes, boxes, containers and other packing materials, and a variety of kitchen and breakroom supplies. Some of the non-paper items include desktop accessories, pens, pencils, binders, award plaques, carpeting and even paint. Working together, FSS, the GSA Environmental Executive, and the GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy, Office of Acquisition Policy, developed a clause change that will require new and renewing schedule holders to not only identify recycled-content products, but also CPG-compliant products at proposal submission. This rulemaking is nearing final publication in the Federal Register at this time. Once implemented, this will greatly facilitate an agency=s search for CPG-compliant products.
Finally, FSS has been instrumental for the yearly report to OFEE and OFPP by reporting expenditures for other agencies that order certain products through FSS, most notably, CPG-compliant copier paper.
GSA=s Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) is responsible for carrying out the policy and regulatory functions assigned to GSA by Congress, and exercises GSA=s authority as one of the central management agencies of the Federal Government. OGP brings interagency groups together to collaborate on developing the policies and guidelines for the implementation of Federal laws, executive orders and other Executive Branch guidance. Under OGP, the Office of Acquisition Policy develops regulations and policies for the Federal acquisition community that enable them to acquire goods and services at best value. Along with NASA and DoD, the GSA Senior Procurement Executive is one of three signatories to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and sits on the FAR Council as well. The Office of Acquisition Policy chairs the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) that allows for interagency collaboration on acquisition regulations. Together with NASA, DoD, and the CAAC, the Office of Acquisition Policy has developed regulatory guidance that specifically address requirements for and purchasing of recycled-content products from the earliest stages of requirements analysis, market research, and acquisition planning, through source selection and contract administration. A FAR solicitation provision and contract clause were added to inform suppliers of products and services alike of their responsibility to use recycled-content products, specifically, those that are CPG-compliant. The Office of Acquisition Policy also works closely with the Office of Federal Environmental Executive, the White House Task Force on Waste Prevention and Recycling, and OFPP to refine the coverage in the FAR and is, in fact, working on some refinements through a rulemaking at this time.
This office also plays another important role that helps to close the circle on GSA's coordinated approach to promoting federal procurement of recycled-content products. GSA, under OFPP direction, manages the Federal Procurement Data
System (FPDS). FPDS captures contract award information for the entire federal
government on awards over $25,000.00. GSA also chairs the interagency working
group that develops new data elements for tracking new requirements for OFPP
approval. In October 2001, the committee developed a new data element capturing
information on CPG-compliant contracts. A reporting subgroup of the White House Task Force on Waste Prevention and Recycling has been working to refine the new data element with the purpose of easing manual Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) reporting by agencies and to provide a basis for measuring CPG-compliant purchasing. GSA will participate with the Task Force in these subgroup meetings.
Reporting and measuring continue to challenge this program governmentwide.
While we applaud efforts to refine the FPDS data element, dollar or volume
amounts of individual CPG items within an individual contract cannot be
captured. Also, it is important to understand that purchases under $25,000.00 are not required to be reported through FPDS. The reporting subgroup of the White House Task Force on Recycling and Waste Prevention continues to address these reporting challenges and make recommendations for improvement. The Task Force and GSA will continue to work with agencies to stress the importance of agencies' commitment to environmental stewardship through acquisition planning, contract development and aggressive Affirmative Procurement Programs. GSA's Environmental Executive and Senior Procurement Executive have partnered to maintain the momentum of the GSA Affirmative Procurement Program and to monitor its progress.
While some interesting research is being conducted regarding the tracking of credit card purchases, we do not currently have the ability to do this. Compounding the credit card challenge, is that a card holder cannot identify CPG-compliant products at retail establishments as there is no program for labeling products under this program. Without such a labeling program, we must focus our attention on education for credit card purchasers and making it easy to purchase CPG-compliant products. GSA is trying to help through its continuing efforts to identify compliant products through FSS.
We believe that a periodic review of the EPA list of CPG items would help to ensure that suppliers of such products are available and responsive and new entrants into the market are included on the supplier lists. We understand that EPA is reviewing their supplier list and we recommend that this be done periodically.
We must be vigilant regarding our education and guidance and this should include the contractor community. Without a labeling program, suppliers need to understand how to accurately identify a product=s environmental attributes.
In closing, I would like to offer a copy of an electronic survey we used this year in our agency to identify strengths and weaknesses in our Affirmative Procurement Program. We will use the results of this survey as a basis for a plan of continuous improvement. Perhaps other agencies might find it useful and can modify it for their use. We will provide a copy of it to the Office of Federal Environmental Executive.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my formal statement. We would be glad to answer any questions that you or Members of the Committee may have about our efforts to promote federal procurement of recycled-content products.