The White House late last week announced its latest step to leverage the Federal government’s procurement power to advance American innovation and build sustainable Federal supply chains.

The new Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule, proposed on Aug. 3, aims to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to restructure and update the regulations to focus on current environmental and sustainability matters, and to implement a requirement for agencies to procure sustainable products and services “to the maximum extent practicable.”

The new rule will help achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050 by modernizing existing sustainable purchasing standards to help ensure the world’s single largest purchaser prioritizes American-made sustainable products and services.

“As the world’s largest buyer, we have a responsibility to lead by example and accelerate the move toward buying clean,” said Robin Carnahan, administrator of the General Services Administration. “Across the country, American businesses are ready to meet this moment with innovative products and services that translate into good jobs, reduced energy costs to taxpayers, and a healthier planet – and that’s a triple win.”

The Federal government spends more than $630 billion on products and services annually, and over one third of existing Federal contracts contain a sustainable purchasing requirement, the White House said.

By increasing the purchase of sustainable products and services, the White House said it is working to reduce emissions associated with the Federal supply chain, which are estimated to be more than twice as large as the emissions from operating the Federal government’s buildings and vehicles combined.

This proposed rule follows up on President Biden’s December 2021 Executive Order (EO) – Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.

The EO directs agencies to reduce emissions, promote environmental stewardship, support resilient supply chains, drive innovation, incentivize markets for sustainable products and services, purchase sustainable products and services in accordance with relevant statutory requirements, and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchase sustainable products and services identified or recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA’s recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels for Federal purchasing span across 34 purchase categories for use of 40 standards and labels, including EPA’s ENERGY STAR, Safer Choice and WaterSense programs.

“With the expansion of EPA’s Recommendations in these new product categories, Federal buyers are further encouraged to make environmentally and health-conscious purchasing decisions,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “By catalyzing federal sustainable procurement, consumers benefit from goods and services that are safer for both their families and our planet. This proposed rule builds on other bold efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize responsible, sustainable trade and reduce pollution at its source.”

Interested stakeholders have until Oct. 2 to submit comments to be considered in the formation of the final rule.

Read More About
More Topics
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.