Connolly works to make green concepts practical

GSA's chief acquisition officer takes a new view of federal procurement policy

Mindy Connolly, in her new role as the General Services Administration’s chief acquisition officer, is making policies practical for government procurements.

As federal officials look more closely at making environmentally conscious procurements, such goals must move from the concept stage to actually guiding acquisition officials in deciding what type of product or service to buy, Connolly said today in her first interview as CAO.

Buying green, sustainable products is required under a 2009 executive order issued by President Barack Obama. Connolly helped the Office of Federal Procurement Policy draft policies related to the order when she served as a procurement policy analyst at OFPP.

In the order, Obama wrote that the goal is “to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the federal government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for federal agencies.”


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Now officials have to make that approach practical, especially when it comes to spending taxpayers' money, Connolly said.

At times, the contracting officer’s decision is fairly clear — for instance, when it comes to buying office paper. However, the requirements for support services, for example, can get dicey, she added.

The government must figure how to appraise procurements as they relate to buying those services. “There’s still work to be done to translate those concepts into fair and relevant evaluation criteria,” she said.

Connolly said those evaluations will depend on training the acquisition workforce to understand the demands of going green and the importance of good communication between federal agencies and contractors.

“We’ll need to be doing a lot of outreach to industry to figure how where and how those products and services are offered in the marketplace,” she added.

As for her new role, Connolly said she didn’t plan to reinvent the goals of the Obama administration, which include increasing the acquisition workforce and decreasing the number of high-risk contracts.

“I’m going to execute,” she said.

About the Author

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

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