Johnson Discusses the Importance of GSA's Partnerships with Industry to Green the Supply Chain

As Prepared for Delivery


Remarks by
Martha N. Johnson
U.S. General Services Administration
GreenGov Supply Chain Executive Roundtable
Chicago, IL
November 16, 2010

Thank you all for joining us today for this important event.  

President Obama has given the government, and the General Services Administration, a challenge in the form of Executive Order 13514 that you have just heard about.

We see this as a pivot point.  It gives the government the momentum, the opportunity, and the responsibility to lead on sustainability.  

We’re here today to talk about Section 13 of EO 13514.  This is the section that discusses greening the supply chain with a particular emphasis on incorporating GHG considerations throughout the acquisition process.

As the federal government’s procurement expert, GSA is taking a leading role in helping move the supply chain and the market toward a green future.

With over 12 million products and more than 18,000 vendors doing business with -- and through -- ¬us, GSA has significant leverage in implementing this goal and in coaching, mentoring, and partnering with businesses to move forward together.

We’re taking a scaled, phased, incentive-based approach to this – collaborating with businesses around these issues to make sure that everyone can compete on the same playing field in the future.

Sustainability is, at core, about no waste.  It’s about trimming the waste from processes; whether that’s wasted space, wasted energy, or wasted resources.  As many of you know, sustainability trims us down and is a catalyst for efficiency.  

I know this firsthand from my early work at the Cummins Diesel Engine Company.  While I worked there, I learned the challenges of managing inventory, logistics, and a complicated, multi-phase supply chain.  

At Cummins, we had a problem with excess inventory – engines – lying on the factory floor.  It was an inefficient use of resources; engines kept being made but not efficiently.  So we re-designed the industrial process, changed the way we thought about engine production, and shifted our thinking about engines.  

We introduced the Total Quality Revolution.  

This change pulled efficiency through the system, totally shifted the way we operated, and made us a better, more competitive company.  And there’s a sustainability story there, too.

They could have kept making engines even though there were wasted ones lying around – but to remain competitive, they had to eliminate the waste.

At GSA, we believe that sustainability is a profit-making business proposition. Today, companies are already seeing improvements in their bottom lines after reducing their GHG emissions.  

They are also looking at innovative ways to reduce their environmental impact.  Rivanna Natural Designs – a small Virginia business who you’ll hear from in a moment – is building recyclable and reusable materials into their operations and is looking at carbon offsets to green their electrical use.

At the major carpet company InterFace Flor – they have changed their language, their operations, and their design process to achieve their own ambitious sustainability goals. It took some risk acceptance, but their company is now in a stronger position because of their sustainability commitments.  

Because we believe that sustainability is the key to our shared future, today we’re proud to launch the GreenGov Supply Chain Partnership. This is a collaborative effort between industry and government that will help build a low-carbon, high-performing, clean, green economy.

We’re delighted to have these businesses here today – you’re the first movers with us on this journey.  

This partnership focuses on promoting clean energy and cutting waste. Members of this partnership will voluntarily measure and report their GHG emissions – they will create a GHG inventory.

The experiences of our partners in this – the challenges they face, the opportunities that open up – will inform GSA in the development of an incentive-based program to reduce GHGs in the Federal Government supply chain
This first step – to encourage the development of GHG inventories – is critical to getting these efforts off the ground.  

We will work with many of our largest suppliers who have already responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) request for GHG inventories.  This will help us learn about their experiences and best practices in reporting and verifying GHG emissions.  

But we are also sensitive to the unique challenges of our country’s small businesses, the real horsepower of the economy.  So, I am pleased to say that a Small Business Pilot program designed to help small federal contractors with technical support to set a GHG reduction target and complete and verify a GHG inventory for their business is underway.

So far, 60 small companies have signed up for the pilot which launches next month.  

Many countries already require these kinds of inventories and reporting, so we know that many of our larger suppliers already do this for them and participate in the CDP and registries.
We also know that some large companies are beginning to seek this information from their suppliers but may ask different questions of them, further burdening the supply chain with potentially redundant surveys.  

GSA understands the challenge this poses to business, and we would like to help create a unified set of questions – an industry standard – that companies across sectors can use without doing duplicative work.

The Obama Administration knows that sustainability will be a pillar of the 21st Century economy.  Sustainability will energize our creativity, unleash the full potential of American innovation, grow our economy, and preserve our world for future generations.  

GSA has a powerful role to play in helping to pull sustainability and a low-carbon future through our supply chain and through industry.  We are committed to being intentional, deliberate, considered, and collaborative.  

We look forward to working with you as we integrate GHG considerations into the federal procurement process.   

Last Reviewed 2011-02-02