Sustainable spending ideas at NextGen

It might not seem like the perfect time to ask federal agencies to take on a new challenge. We know you’ll disagree since this new challenge will decrease costs and advance goals that transcend agency borders.

Americans expect government to “lead by example” to stave off climate change, reduce pollution, stimulate green domestic jobs, improve public health, and enhance energy security. In addition to the efforts to make federal buildings and federal fleets more energy efficient, what should the federal agencies do?

Every year federal agencies spend roughly $150 billion on third-party transportation services – ones outside of the federal fleet.

Since the federal government is such a big, important customer, it has leverage. The president has asked you to demonstrate government’s fundamental ability to tackle issues most central to our nation’s future, a demonstration of real progress on transportation, sustainability, public health and security –areas of critical and long-term importance.

In the coming days, Warren G. Lavey and Gregory C. Staple of the American Clean Skies Foundation will offer a plan that ratchets down the government’s consumption of oil – and the fiscal and environmental costs that come with it – by requiring federal agencies to apply to third-­‐party transportation providers the same kind of alternative fuel targets, efficiency standards and reporting practices that agencies currently apply to their own vehicle fleets.

Lavey and Staple estimate that implementation of this plan could deliver approximately $25 billion in cost savings by 2025, as much as $7 billion annually; reduce petroleum consumption by billions of gallons each year; stimulate the introduction of tens of thousands of new alternatively fueled vehicles; and cut greenhouse gas pollution by over 20 million metric tons annually.

As many of you know, Executive Order 13514, adopted in 2009, already directs federal agencies to purchase transportation services that promote energy security, energy efficiency and cleaner air. You may have already been involved in the success in compliance with this directive, especially if you’re at the U.S. Postal Service or the General Services Administration.

Much more could be achieved by extending the framework of specific standards, performance tracking and plans from federally owned fleets to third-party transportation service providers. Given that the federal government is such a large customer, many federal agencies have close relationships with, and considerable influence over, some of the country’s largest freight carriers and product shippers. A shift by government from oil to fuel-efficiency with alternative fuels could not only save taxpayer dollars, it could also have large economic and environmental benefits – positively shifting supply and prices for alternative fuels and vehicles throughout the nation.

As your conference organizers said, sustainability is more than just a buzz word – it’s a widespread business model and an increasingly important federal government priority. Our recommendations have been proven to be successful and cost-effective — the lifecycle costs of alternative fuel vehicles have declined; the availability of new vehicle technologies and fueling options is increasing rapid; companies widely use analytical tools and report data for their energy use and emissions; and the private sector has experience in shifting to alternative fuel vehicles. Focusing on the federal supply chain is part of the hope for a more sustainable future.

Go to NextGen and sign up for Think Sustainability. Get the inside scoop on Oil Shift: The Case for Switching Federal Transportation Spending to Alternative Fuel Vehicles. And also figure out your Next Move with Education’s Kitty Wooley.

5. Think Sustainability
Katie Miller, Sustainable Supply Chain Management Lead, Program Analyst at General Services Administration, Federal Acquisition Service’s Office of Acquisition Management
Josie Ostrander, Senior Analyst, Government Accountability Office
Julia Philpott, Sustainability Professional, PRIZIM, Inc
Addie Spahr, Founder, Green Living Consulting, LLC (Co-Moderator) & contributor to The Public Manager

Barbara Englehart, Englehart Consulting (Co-Moderator)

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Thanks so much, David. We’ll be offering recommendations in August and more than 40 pages for research on federal and business performance thus far. We look forward to comments and ideas about how best to move forward.