Feds Move to Choose Vendors Based On Environmental Performance

The US General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s purchasing arm, is proposing a new way to choose vendors that compete for government contracts. 

It’s starting with companies that deliver packages across the government – a $1.5 billion contract that begins in 2014 and runs for five years. GSA proposes that companies be selected not only based on price but also on meeting annual targets for fuel efficiency, greenhouse gas intensity and use of clean fuels. 

GSA’s solicitation is for express and ground shipping of an estimated 15 million to 35 million packages a year between 2014-2018.

The idea is to encourage more rapid expansion of electric and natural gas vehicles, says Brian Skretny, Transportation Director at the American Clean Skies Foundation. 

The Foundation has been urging GSA to go in this direction.  GSA should also consider providing contract incentives based on the vendor’s environmental performance, they say.

They are also urging the Department of Defense to do the same in selecting vendors for its $2.5 billion Worldwide Express delivery services contract.

In fact, the government should point the $150 billion it spends each year on transportation services to advance environmental objectives, they say.

"This new GSA contract could set an important new benchmark for government transport contracts, and GSA should be applauded for expressly recognizing that transport related pollution has quantifiable costs and negative impacts on federal agency operations," says Gregory Staple, CEO of the American Clean Skies Foundation. "Hence, it makes sense for the government to compare the environmental performance of its current and potential business partners. Proposed contracts like this show the Administration is serious about achieving greater reductions in air emissions and oil use."

"Spurring freight and package transportation providers to reduce petroleum consumption and toxic air pollution will decrease costs for government agencies and all shippers, improve public health, increase domestic jobs and enhance national security," says Warren Lavey, the group’s senior regulatory counsel.

In the case of package deliveries, it essentially sets up a competition between FedEx and UPS. UPS currently holds the contract which expires this year, and FedEx had the contract for the previous five years.

The Foundation points out that environmental and energy security related contract terms are required by President Obama’s executive orders on environmental justice, emissions and petroleum reduction, especially Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. That order, issued in 2009, requires every agency to adopt a sustainability plan with annual performance targets for reduced emission and petroleum use, and to ensure that their vendors are energy efficient and environmentally preferable.

Read their report, Oil Shift: The Case for Shifting Federal Transportation Spending to Alternative Fuel Vehicles:

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