Green IT formalized in FAR, federal policy

The Office of Management and Budget published a proposed policy letter that outlines agency responsibilities for acquiring environmentally friendly products and services, including information technology. At about the same time, the Federal Acquisition Regulation council agreed to change the FAR to require use of the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) when acquiring personal computer products when they are available.

Both were published in the Federal Register. The FAR amendment is effective as of its publishing date, but it could be revised after a comment period. The policy letter will take effect after a comment period. Comments are due Feb. 25 for the FAR amendment and Feb. 26 for the proposed policy letter.

The green actions provide steps that agencies must take to reduce greenhouse gases through electronic stewardship and energy savings, according to President Bush’s Jan. 26, 2007, environmental executive order.

The OFPP letter requires that agencies identify opportunities and give preference to green products and services, including alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles; bio-based products; EnergyStar and Federal Energy Management Program-designated products; EPEAT-registered computer products; and products with low or no toxic or hazardous materials, nonozone-depleting substances, and those made with recycled content or renewable energy. Agencies will first consider mandatory and preferred sources to obtain green products and services that meet their performance needs, and where it is not designated to automatically substitute green products and service in place of those that are not, OFPP Administrator Paul Denett said in the proposed policy letter.

Central supply agencies, such as the General Services Administration and the Defense Logistics Agency, will designate green products and services, and phase out competing nongreen products from their catalogs and online ordering systems by 2010. Green products designated after the policy letter will be put in place a year later or other agreed-upon alternative. Agencies will develop a green purchasing plan, which includes promoting the acquisition of green products and services internally and externally to all product vendors and service providers.

Agencies will report to OFPP on steps taken to comply with the green mandate and conduct tests to measure results from the purchase and use of environmental products and services. Agencies also may be asked to serve as the lead in coordinating a pilot test and reporting governmentwide results.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s EPEAT, which is now incorporated into FAR, is a standard for computers, laptop PCs and monitors to measure their electronic environmental stewardship and energy savings. EPA and other agencies have worked with OMB to encourage the use of EPEAT products in contracts. Agencies had been able to voluntarily include contract language about buying green IT into individual proposal requests. With the FAR provision, the designation of EPEAT products in contracts becomes federal procurement policy.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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