On April 30, 2019, the federal Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) Office of Federal Sustainability (OFS) issued Implementing Instructions for meeting the requirements, including federal purchasing of biobased products, of Executive Order (EO) 13834.
EO 13834,“Efficient Federal Operations,” was issued by President Trump in May 2018. CEQ was tasked to develop guidance to federal agencies for implementing the EO, which according to CEQ “directs agencies to manage buildings, vehicles, and operations to optimize energy and environmental performance while reducing waste and cutting costs.”
EO 13834 requires the head of each federal agency to meet a “series of goals, which are based on statutory requirements, in a cost-effective manner.” The EO includes an acquisition goal that directs agency heads to:
- Acquire, use, and dispose of products and services, including electronics, in accordance with statutory mandates for purchasing preference, Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements, and other applicable Federal procurement policies;
Mandatory federal purchasing requirements for biobased products is one of the statutory environmental requirements that falls under this acquisition goal.
The implementing instructions that apply to purchasing biobased products include:
Agency Progress Metrics, Performance Measures, and Milestones
- Percentage of contract actions containing statutory environmental requirements;
- Percentage of obligations (in dollars) containing statutory environmental requirements.
- Increase in the percentage of contract actions and increase in percentage of obligations (in dollars) containing statutory environmental requirements, as compared to the previous fiscal year.
- Agencies will identify targets for the next fiscal year in their annual Sustainability Plans
Regulatory and Priority Strategies
Agencies must give purchasing preference to products that are designated as biobased or BioPreferred by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agencies must also set yearly targets for number of biobased-only contracts awarded (7 U.S.C. § 8102). Agencies are directed to consult the System for Award Management (SAM) for contractor-reported data on biobased products delivered under service contracts.
Tracking and Reporting
Federal agency compliance with acquisition requirements will be assessed using data reported in the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) or data from other verified sources agreed to by CEQ and the federal Office of Management and Budget.
Using CEQ’s sustainability plan template instructions, agencies will identify yearly sustainable acquisition targets, including biobased contracting targets, in annual Sustainability Plans.
Data points that will be tracked as indicators include:
- Number of applicable contract actions containing sustainable clauses.
- Value of applicable contract actions containing sustainable clauses.
- Number of biobased-only contracts awarded.
Guidance and Resources
The implementing guidance list of resources includes:
- USDA’s BioPreferred website provides information on minimum biobased content requirements.
- The General Services Administration’s (GSA)Green Procurement Compilation is a comprehensive resource that helps the Federal acquisition workforce identify applicable sustainable acquisition requirements and provides information on sustainable acquisition by product and service category.
- EPA’s Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services website includes EPA’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing, which identify products and services that meet statutory purchasing requirements.
- Within 180 days of these Instructions, GSA, EPA, FEMP, and USDA, in consultation with CEQ and OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), will coordinate in identifying opportunities to consolidate program information and guidance for Federal purchasers and 2) leverage shared resources, government-wide platforms, and technologies to enable and increase sustainable acquisition and compliance.
- Within 180 days of these Instructions, USDA, in coordination with GSA, will develop recommended methodologies for agencies to establish yearly biobased-only contract targets.
- To support acquisition compliance, GSA, in consultation with CEQ and OFPP, will establish and coordinate with an advisory group of sustainable acquisition subject matter and technical experts from EPA, DOE, USDA, and other agencies, as appropriate, to assist the 10 Category Managers who lead the government-wide Category Management Initiative and contract owners in incorporating sustainability requirements and specifications. Industrial Products & Services and Facilities & Construction are two of the 10 purchasing categories cover by the initiative. For more information see the June 2019 Action Plan and Progress Update on the Contract Management Initiative.