OMB survey asks who's gone green

The Office of Management and Budget wants to know more about agencies and their green purchasing and recycling habits.

Has your agency been buying “green” products? The Obama administration wants to know.

An Office of Management and Budget memo asks agencies to complete a survey on their green purchasing and recycling habits. Agencies have until Jan. 15 to fill out the survey.

Officials will use the survey’s information to evaluate agencies’ progress toward the green purchasing standard for success, which would give them a better grade on the OMB Scorecard on Environmental Stewardship, according to the Nov. 23 memo.

Among the general interest questions about going green, OMB is asking about agency leadership in buying green products and the barriers to reaching the electronic product environmental assessment tool (EPEAT) purchasing requirements.

The EPEAT initiative aids procurement officials in choosing environmentally preferable laptop and desktop computers and monitors. It was developed along the lines of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and the Energy Department’s Energy Star program.

In October, the Government Accountability Office said EPEAT has been generally successful. In 2008, 88 percent of all laptop and desktop computers and monitors that agencies purchased or leased were EPEAT-registered. EPEAT participation reportedly resulted in officials buying 95 percent of their monitors with Energy Star power features and 38 percent of computers with this feature, GAO told a House subcommittee.

It’s not all savings though. GAO also said agencies and their federal facilities representing about two-thirds of the federal workforce are not participating in the program, despite instructions to do so in a 2007 presidential executive order. Many agencies don’t take advantage of the program’s resources and benefits.

The need for increased federal participation in these initiatives is underscored by the federal government electronic waste that continues to appear in online auctions, GAO said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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