Remarks for DC Auto Show public policy panel as prepared for Administrator Robin Carnahan

Thank you, John. It’s great to be back at the Washington Auto Show and to extend a welcome to everyone on behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration. I look forward to hearing from the terrific lineup of leaders from the Hill, the Administration, and industry.

I know there are a lot of exciting events happening over the next week… One that our GSA team is very focused on is an event we host next week called FedFleet. It’s the largest gathering of industry experts and government fleet managers in the country, so I hope some of you will stick around and join us for that.

As folks in this room probably know, in addition to managing the nation’s largest commercial real estate portfolio and helping buy over $100 billion worth of goods and services for federal partners every year, GSA also manages one of the largest vehicle fleets in the country – buying and maintaining around a quarter of a million government vehicles used by federal partners.

So, I want to start by thanking our industry partners who are here today - especially our OEMs and suppliers.

Can I see a quick show of hands…how many of you do business with GSA or other federal agencies?

Despite some ongoing challenges, you all have done a great job of filling our orders and delivering the diverse range of makes, models and quantities we need to help federal agencies fulfill their missions. Things aren’t perfect yet, but we’re certainly in a much better place than a couple years ago, and that deserves a round of applause.

The vehicles and services you provide help deliver real impact for the American people.  We’re talking about everything from light-duty vehicles supporting DoD bases and installations… to buses shuttling visitors around our National Parks. And we’re especially pleased to see that more and more of those vehicles are zero emissions.

Outside of government, we’ve seen enormous growth in EV sales, quadrupling to more than 4 million, and the number of publicly available charging ports has grown by nearly 70 percent.

And inside government, since 2021, we’ve focused on implementing President Biden’s Executive Order to transition 100% of all federal fleet purchases to be zero-emission by 2035.

The good news is, because of the generational investments we’re finally making in American manufacturing and infrastructure funded by the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, we’re making incredible progress.

Over the past three years, the government has ordered over 54,000 zero-emission vehicles. Many of those are new US Postal Service vehicles. In fact, just last month I connected with Postmaster DeJoy to see their next gen delivery vehicle. It’s an EV with an open design and lots more room for packages that’ll be deployed across the country. The result – improved mission delivery and improved sustainability for our communities and the planet.

The Postal Service handles its own specialized fleet, but GSA handles most of the remaining federal fleet. And we’re seeing similar demand for EVs from those agency partners across the government. In FY23, year-on-year, we increased the number of zero-emission vehicles in the federal fleet by 63%.  That’s over 6,000 new EVs. 

And listen to this…for the first quarter of FY24, we’ve already bought 4,000 more – that’s about 20% of our orders and almost 30% of our light-duty vehicle orders.

But as we all know, when it comes to EVs, vehicles are just one side of the equation. So we’re also very focused on building out the charging infrastructure needed to support them. 

In government facilities, we’re installing more than 26,000 additional charging ports in the near term, that’s in addition to the 7,000 already in use.

And all of this is on top of the billions of dollars of funding the Department of Transportation is providing to states to build out public charging infrastructure, including the recently announced $623 million dollar investment in 47 projects across 22 states - targeting rural areas and underserved communities.

This level of government commitment is a big deal – both unprecedented and important – but even more important and more impressive is the private investments we’re seeing of more than $150 billion in EVs, batteries and related supply chains.

The bottom line is, the success and speed of this transition toward EVs and a clean energy economy depends on the folks in this room.

So take a look around. Make a real effort to meet each other. Find more ways to collaborate and partner with us to move faster and smarter. Because that’s the best way to grow this marketplace, secure our supply chains and make sure American companies are leading the way worldwide in this transition.

The President always says when he thinks about investments in the clean energy economy he thinks of jobs, and I couldn’t agree more.

In fact, I think of these investments as a triple win…

  • Creating more good paying American jobs.
  • Saving money for taxpayers.
  • Leaving our healthier planet for our kids.

That’s why both the GSA team and me personally are spending considerable time working not just with our agency customers on how best to meet their needs, but also with OEMs, suppliers, union workers, and utilities across the country on ways to speed our progress and tap into the latest innovations.

But it’s not just talk, we’re also directly investing in innovation through a program called the Green Proving Ground. It’s a great example of a smart public-private partnership where we

  •  Identify new technologies.
  • Deploy them in federal facilities.
  • Test how they perform in real world conditions. 
  • When it makes economic sense, roll them out at scale across the government.

So far, we’ve deployed a range of products and services from new EV charging technologies to load management software.

We’ve got nearly $1 billion to invest in GPG projects, and we’re looking for more innovative technologies to apply, so I hope you take the time to see whether your companies partner with GSA on this terrific program.

Before wrapping up, I want to mention one other important role GSA plays in driving innovation across the Administration. We all know that securing our nation’s IT infrastructure and cloud-based technologies is increasingly critical.  And that includes ensuring that cloud-based EV charging infrastructure meets the highest cybersecurity standards.

Ensuring that’s done right happens through a program called FedRAMP which is managed by a team at GSA.

Once something has gone through the FedRAMP process, and meets the government’s strenuous security standards, it’s ready to be deployed by agencies.

So I’m excited to announce that this week we’re finalizing that process for the first [two] providers of EV charging infrastructure.  And, even better, we have about six more systems in the approval pipeline, so soon there will be even more secure EV infrastructure options for our partners to choose from. 

This is a big win and we look forward to accelerating this process for other cloud based tools.

There’s a lot more I could talk about on this topic, because agencies across the government are all-in on creating the triple win of these investments…good paying American jobs, saving money for taxpayers and creating healthier communities. But I’ll have to save that for next time…in the meantime,

Thanks to all of you for your partnership and for the work you do everyday to help build a strong economy and stronger communities all across America and for every American.