Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer
Joint Full Committee and Subcommittee on Oversight Hearing
GSA: Opportunities to Cut Costs, Improve Energy Performance,
and Eliminate Waste
March 30, 2011
(Remarks as prepared for delivery.)

Thank you for being here today for this important hearing on Opportunities at the General Services Administration (GSA) to Cut Costs, Improve Energy Performance, and Eliminate Waste.

The federal government is one of the nation's largest energy consumers and purchases nearly $500 billion in goods and services every year. The Federal government is positioned to be a leader in efforts to improve efficiency, eliminate waste, and improve environmental performance.

GSA provides office space to over one million Federal employees in over 9,600 Federal buildings and leases, totaling 370 million square feet of space. The agency is playing a key role in improving the efficiency of office buildings nationwide, which account for a significant amount of the nation's energy and water use and waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Green Building Council, buildings in the U.S. account for 36 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electricity consumption, 12 percent of total water consumption, and 30 percent of waste output.

GSA is also the central agency for acquiring products and services for the Federal government. The agency offers over 12 million products and services to other Federal agencies. Given its role in Federal acquisitions, GSA can have a large influence on the goods and services that are provided to the Federal government by the private sector.

Businesses worldwide are already working to cut costs, reduce waste, and improve efficiency, and are creating competitive advantages in the process. The Federal government can learn from these private sector efforts. Done right, these initiatives can cut waste and inefficiency while making the federal government's supply chain cleaner and more sustainable.

In previous Congresses, we enacted legislation, such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, to provide for construction of "green" government buildings and retrofit federal buildings with energy-efficient technologies. Both Presidents Bush and Obama also issued executive orders to improve the sustainability of the Federal government.

These are important initiatives that lay a strong foundation for improving efficiency and energy and environmental performance. Today, we will hear from GSA how these initiatives are being implemented.

On the second panel we will hear from companies who are working to improve their own operations about the benefits they have seen from becoming more sustainable. We will also hear from building and energy efficiency experts from outside of government regarding the progress that has been made in building efficiency to date, the barriers to further improvements, and what more can be done.

I believe we must continue to aggressively improve the efficiency and sustainability of the Federal government. I look forward to working with GSA and my colleagues in the Senate to determine if adequate authorities exist to enable the Federal government to continue cutting waste, reducing energy use, and improving environmental performance and to remove any barriers to these ongoing efforts.

I appreciate all of the witnesses who are here today and look forward to your testimony.


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