OMB, agencies to push green IT in contracts

The Office of Management and Budget is expected to publish next week a provision to the Federal Acquisition Regulations to purchase environmental and energy-saving electronic products when they are available, Holly Elwood, headquarters lead of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) program, said today.

The tool is a standard for computers, laptop computers and monitors to measure electronic stewardship and energy savings. EPEAT and other agencies have worked with OMB to encourage the use of EPEAT products in contracts.

It has been up to agencies to voluntarily include contract language about buying green information technology into individual proposal requests. With the FAR provision, it will become federal procurement policy. The provision supports the goals set by President Bush’s Jan. 24 environmental executive order to reduce greenhouse gases through electronic stewardship and energy savings.

The Energy Department plans to make the purchase of environmentally friendly and energy-saving products a procurement standard early next year to mirror OMB’s requirement, said Jeff Eagan, electronics stewardship coordinator in Energy’s Office of Environmental Policy and Assistance. Energy’s structure, in which its labs and facilities operate through a contract, needs direct implementation from the department, he said.

“As soon as the FAR clause is published, Energy will publish a Department of Energy Acquisition Regulation amendment to require EPEAT. We will do it as fast as we can,” Eagan said at today’s Green Computing Summit, sponsored by the eGov Institute, a division of Federal Computer Week’s parent company, 1105 Media.

Energy has been an early adopter of EPEAT products. It has integrated EPEAT into agency requirements and purchased more than 10,000 EPEAT computers, valued at more than $10 million, in fiscal 2007, Eagan said. Energy will be the first agency to collect EPEAT purchasing data for 2007 across all its major facilities in January 2008 or early in the first quarter of next year. Although some more centrally controlled agencies may also do a count, Energy has the widest use of EPEAT products, he said.

“We have found that EPEAT is a remarkably useful tool,” Eagan said. Also, agency facilities are putting it in their environmental management systems.

There are 715 products in the category for computers, laptops and monitors that are EPEAT-certified from 24 manufacturers, Elwood said. In February 2008, EPA and other EPEAT stakeholders will meet to begin scoping standards and environmental attributes for imaging equipment and in April for televisions, she said.

An OMB spokeswoman said the interim rule on the use of the EPEAT standard when acquiring personal computer products will come out by the end of the year.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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