Let’s talk: sustainability, Issue 2

Gaining the edge in government procurement

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The government procurement process, especially at the federal level, is fiercely competitive.

With US government dollars exceptionally tight, companies are looking for any way to gain an edge. For these companies, sustainability is an important distinguisher that can give them a competitive advantage when bidding on lucrative government contracts.

Government agencies, like any business, are always looking for ways to reduce costs. Agencies are already buying more energy-efficient products, and they are now looking for cost savings related to reducing environmental impacts across the total life cycle of a product.

If a company can demonstrate that its solution uses less energy or is less expensive to dispose of, those benefits equate to real cost savings for the agency. Agencies have been directed to engage in sustainable acquisition.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 23.103 requires agencies to include sustainable products in 95% of new contract actions for the supply of products and services. In May 2012, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) also included completion of a “streamlined lifecycle analysis” as a requirement in Chapter 4 of the Defense Acquisition Guidelines.

Furthermore, agencies are judged on their sustainability performance in the yearly Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Sustainability and Energy Scorecard. The sustainability practices of federal suppliers impact an agency’s Scorecard and can influence budget.

There are several sustainability drivers companies should account for to gain an advantage in the government procurement process. Elements companies should consider are:

  1. Know your company and your competitors. Review your sustainability initiatives and your company’s products’ or services’ sustainability impacts. Also be aware of how your competitors match up.
  2. Know your customer. Review agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans (SSPP) to understand expectations.
  3. Effectively tell your story. Translate all of your sustainability initiatives into a compelling, agency-specific, cost-savings story in your procurement response.

Government agencies see sustainability as an opportunity for cost savings. They are building it into procurement processes to reduce costs and maximize limited budget dollars.

Ensuring that you’ve maximized the environmental performance of your company, products and services; being aware of each agency’s SSPP; and communicating your sustainability value effectively could make the difference between winning and losing an important contract.