8.1 Collaboration Outside of Government
Vendor Tool Kit. Agencies are taking many steps to improve the acquisition and management of Federal information technology consistent with good management practices. A central part of this effort is early and frequent industry communication and collaboration with industry. To make it easier for vendors to find engagement opportunities and to provide a central location where agencies may share this information, the Chief Acquisition Officers Council worked with our Integrated Acquisition Environment team to add a new presearch capability on www.FBO.gov called “vendor collaboration.” This new feature is available from the FedBizOpps.gov home page and provides quick and easy access to the vendor collaboration central event listing. Agencies post their vendor communication plans to FedBizOpps, and they can be accessed through the new vendor collaboration event listing to make them easy to find for vendors and agency acquisition professionals. Agencies also post upcoming vendor collaboration events or engagement opportunities, such as industry days, pre-RFP conferences and vendor forums.
GSA’s Federal Acquisition Services-Interact. Our Federal Acquisition Service is looking for ways to increase its effectiveness in serving its stakeholder communities. Over the next year, FAS will offer an opportunity for building communities around topics of business interests to Federal, state and local employees; and for facilitating a dialogue with its vendor partners with the goal of understanding how to better provide acquisition products and services. This group is intended to be an open forum so we can listen and develop topics and groups that best serve your needs and interests. FAS manages Interact, an open public platform where employees, their customers, industry partners and stakeholders can connect and share information about Federal acquisition issues. Launched in October 2010, the platform has 10 public communities focused on a diverse array of topics, including Multiple Awards Schedules Program best practices, sustainable acquisition and small-business contracting tips. It comprises Federal, state and local government staff and industry partners, nongovernment organizations and others. By the end of 2011, Interact had more than 5,500 members, with 40 percent from other Federal, state and local agencies. Successes include diverse, informative discussions; fast turn-around time to find subject-matter experts; community members helping community members; and access to a vast amount of content, blogs, webinars, videos, documents, polls and wikis. The functions of Interact include the following:
- Fostering dialogue with vendor partners to better understand how to provide acquisition products and services;
- Providing useful links to information by public and private organizations and individuals;
- Providing access to GSA specialized training for employees and vendors;
- Offering public viewing (To comment or post, you must register for an account); and
- Compiling related news articles, relevant blogs and feeds of several GSA channels.
Register at Interact for an account, and join us in the conversation.
Public Buildings Service Industry Relations Opens Dialogue to Enhance Awareness, Access and Support. GSA's Public Buildings Service Industry Relations Division is using the collaboration tool IdeaScale to reach out to the business community and others. The recent IdeaScale launch will allow the vendor community to share ideas aimed at increasing and maximizing awareness of GSA’s PBS. The Public Buildings Service Industry Relations Division increases awareness of contract opportunities with PBS while maximizing access to the right information and the right points of contact at the right time. The dialogue will increase access to PBS information and resources, and will increase overall support to the vendor community. This will also help us find new and better ways to get the word out on upcoming contracting opportunities with PBS. Small and large businesses are also asked to identify how PBS can improve vendor outreach and support.
The Public Buildings Service wants to show the vendor community that we are listening and aiming for openness as an operational standard. By the end of the second quarter of FY 2012, we plan to launch a virtual platform that will allow direct collaboration between industry and PBS. Potential focus areas for the platform will be ongoing virtual symposiums, training, awareness, participation, multimedia presentations and program interaction.
PBS also launched a contact center for industry relations with a call center and an email address, email@example.com, to accept industry questions, comments and requests for assistance. PBS later launched a Twitter site, to share news, information and contracting opportunities. The PBS Industry Relations Division uses its Twitter account, http://twitter.com/gsapbsIRD, for posting business opportunities on FedBizOpps, PBS news and information. Those who don’t have a Twitter account can find the same information on FedBizOpps. We also established the PBS LinkedIn Group to create awareness of, and facilitate discussion around PBS news, information and procurement opportunities.
Electronics Recycling Market and Jobs. GSA and the Environmental Protection Agency joined corporate executives to release the Obama administration’s This is a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the growing electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here at home. The strategy commits the Federal Government to take specific actions to encourage the more environmentally friendly design of electronic products, promote recycling of used or discarded electronics, and advance a domestic market for electronics recycling that will protect public health and create jobs. Under the strategy, GSA will remove products that do not comply with comprehensive and robust energy-efficiency or environmental performance standards – from our information technology purchase contracts used by Federal agencies – and will ensure that all electronics used by the Federal Government are reused or recycled properly. A key component of this strategy includes the use of certified recyclers and increasing safe and effective management and handling of used electronics in the United States, and working with industry in a collaborative manner to achieve that goal. This collaboration aims to encourage businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers and for electronic recyclers to become certified. As the next steps in this collaborative effort, EPA will continue to work with industry to encourage other companies to voluntarily commit to help grow the domestic recycling market, create the green jobs of the future in the United States and educate consumers. The Federal Government is one of the largest electronics consumer in the world, and with this partnership, we will also become the most responsible user of electronics. The government will lead by example to ensure the billions of dollars in IT equipment the government cycles annually will be either reused or recycled properly.
Greening the Supply Chain and Sustainability Partnership. Launched in November 2010, this partnership originally sought to provide incentives for Federal suppliers to complete greenhouse gas emissions inventories. Federal agencies must complete yearly greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and while the inclusion of vendor greenhouse gas emissions is voluntary, agencies want to know how much of their emissions are embedded in their supply chain, i.e. as a result of their suppliers. During the early part of 2011, the Council on Environmental Quality held listening sessions around the country to learn about the benefits and challenges associated with completing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory. The feedback from Federal suppliers was surprising, especially the feedback from one of the Top 100 suppliers. Some of the most common environmental impacts mentioned were water, energy and certain chemicals. Most suppliers within the Top 100 are not only completing Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions inventories for their own operations; they are also starting to engage their suppliers in inventory completion. Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the entity. Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the generation of electricity, heating and cooling, or steam generated off site but purchased by the entity. The act of identifying and reducing emissions provides cost-savings and increases a company’s competitiveness in international markets.
The information on Scope 2 emissions prompted us to rethink the partnership program and to relaunch the program in early 2012 with a focus on learning how leading U.S. companies are leveraging their supplier relationships to reduce not only emissions but also other environmental impacts within their operations and throughout their supply chain. We plan to integrate, as appropriate, the recommended “supplier code of conducts,” produced as part of this revised GreenGov Sustainable Supply Chain Partnership program, in Federal procurements to achieve a sustainable Federal supply chain.
Membership in the partnership would be open to companies of all sizes but constrained to Federal contractors in good standing. The partnership would be segmented into specific market-sector groups with companies being invited to join relevant groups:
- Information technology,
- Professional services,
- Furniture, and
- Food services.
Additional market sectors suggested have been waste management and building construction. Each market sector working group would be co-chaired by an industry representative and nonprofit/association representative. The co-chairs would support the activities of that specific market-sector working group and drafting the recommended supplier code of conducts.
GSA has launched a sustainable acquisition collaboration with the Department of Defense to improve sustainable acquisition activities governmentwide. We are also developing the sustainable supply chain community on Data.gov that would be the primary engagement platform and information repository for the revised partnership. The sustainable supply chain community would be broken into the market-sector groups and within those groups highlight the group membership and the specific supply chain environmental impacts being addressed by each member. It will also have a resource section to allow the sharing of government and industry-developed sustainability trainings. By using Data.gov, the partnership maximizes its commitment to transparency and the sharing of information to increase the sustainability and competitiveness of Federal suppliers and, therefore, increase the sustainability of the Federal supply chain.
OCIO Wireless E-cycle Program Protects Drinking Water From Harmful Toxins. GSA’s first environmental impact report notes that through our commitment to reduce e-waste and our partnership with a wireless mobile buyback, data protection and recycling company, we have saved energy and reduced greenhouse emissions. The company buys used cell phones that still have value and recycles all others at no charge through its EPA-registered facility. Our Office of the Chief Information Officer’s wireless program has allowed us to keep extremely harmful toxins such as lead, zinc, mercury and flame retardants from polluting our landfills and drinking water. The 2010-2011 report is based on mobile recycling facts from EPA. In the past year, GSA has recycled 8,420 devices, which is calculated to have prevented the contamination of up to 336.8 million gallons of water. The program has reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to enough energy to power a laptop computer for 370,480 hours and to provide 1.52 households with electricity for an entire year. These efforts prevented the release of 5.38 pounds of lead into the environment.
Eco-Labeling Adoption. GSA is leading an interagency effort to determine which of the many green product labels should be considered by the Federal Government across a number of product groups. As much as possible, the government would like to use green labeling that has a basis in ongoing standards and is meaningful. The process includes many agencies, nonprofit and industry groups and is beneficial at advancing the eco-label adoptions. We advertised the draft guidelines for public comment.
AbilityOne Workshops Providing Jobs to Disabled Workers. A GSA regional administrator met some extraordinary employees at the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Industries for the Blind workshop in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. More than 100 blind or visually impaired individuals work at Winston-Salem industries to manufacture goods for the government through the AbilityOne program. While the Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind workshop primarily provides military uniforms, other AbilityOne workshops manufacture pens, staplers, computer equipment and additional office supplies and products for Federal agencies. GSA offers many of these products to our customers through our Federal Acquisition Service supply programs. These workshops are mutually beneficial to the workers, employers and the government’s supply chain. Not only do they provide tools for the government to do its job, but they provide jobs and economic independence for their workers. GSA has a long history of supporting workshops such as the one in Mayaguez and has extensive contracts with AbilityOne suppliers across the country. AbilityOne is a Federal program that works with nonprofits to provide employment opportunities for people who are blind or severely disabled. AbilityOne is the largest source of employment for people disabilities, and it employs more than 47,000 people through Federal contracts across the United States. President Obama is committed to ensuring that people living with disabilities have fair access to jobs so they can contribute to our economy and realize their dreams. GSA’s partnership and collaboration with AbilityOne is part of the administration’s efforts to create jobs and give all Americans the tools they need to succeed. AbilityOne Workshops
Data.gov Communities. Data.gov communities are dedicated to bringing together suppliers and consumers around a specific, cross-agency topic. These active communities provide the public with a place to find data on topics of interest, access applications and tools that bring that data to life. They can read blogs from agency contributors such as those from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Energy, and use discussion forums. Data.gov has also become a gathering spot for those with shared interests through its topic-based communities. Six communities – education, health, law, energy, safety and research – are noted in President Obama’s Open Government National Action Plan. Data.gov provides a one-stop catalog of U.S. Government data to download, mash up or analyze. It's the centerpiece of the global open democracy movement and has been emulated by 16 countries.
Ocean.Data.gov Communities. Our nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are precious and vital to our economy and environment, so planning for their sustainable future is paramount. One of our newest communities, Ocean.Data.gov, supports efforts to protect our oceans and waterways, serving as a portal for data, information and tools. Ocean.Data.gov supports the implementation of the National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts and the Great Lakes, established by an executive order signed in July 2010. The policy established principles for ocean management and created a framework for effective coastal and marine planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the nation’s oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes. The National Ocean Council manages the new site, developed collaboratively by its 15 member agencies.
Cities.Data.gov. A new cities community is being formed, with details being finalized. Cities.Data.gov will be on Data.gov, connecting Federal data with open data published by U.S. cities. Focused on city officials, business owners and developers, cities.Data.gov will help to make a broad range of government data accessible in one place in usable formats. The public will be able to compare similar issues (such as health, safety and the environment) across cities and in context with the nation as a whole. Developers will be able to help deliver local solutions using national resources. Businesses will be able to analyze consumer patterns to look for new business opportunities. Chris Vein, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer, of the Office of Science and Technology Policy is the community leader.
North American Data Sharing. North American Day is an annual two-day meeting and collaboration of 30 senior IT officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico to discuss, in a trusted environment, the most important issues of common concern among the three countries. The group is sponsored by our Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies on behalf of all Federal agencies. In 2011, the North American Day leaders – GSA’s Dave McClure, the Chief Information Officer of Canada, and Mexico’s Vice Minister of Public Administration – signed a memorandum of understanding supporting the establishment of joint information-sharing projects to benefit the three governments’ common public missions.
Two projects and working groups will help improve international information-sharing on public health and public safety using the National Information Exchange Model, managed by the Department of Homeland Security. The public safety project team is developing a methodology for sharing stolen-vehicle information among the three countries. The public health project team is developing an information-sharing protocol that will make it faster and easier for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and its Canadian and Mexican counterparts to intervene in episodes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Results of the collaboration will demonstrate the feasibility of an international information-sharing framework using the National Information Exchange Model to support the sharing of mission-critical information.
The direct beneficiaries of these projects are the government programs that will have access to international information in critical areas to improve their service to the citizens of all three countries. By extension, the hundreds of millions of citizens will benefit from improvements to the public health and safety across North America. Other government agencies in these countries can build on these pilot results to improve their own access to important data sources in other countries and their own ability to improve the quality of life of our citizens.