GSA to study environmental impacts of common IT services

The General Services Administration has little insight into the environmental impacts of particular services that the government often buys, so the agency wants to study their lifecycle effects as it plans for future services contracts.

In a new solicitation, GSA plans to commission a study to identify significant environmental effects from several services sectors and find potential lifecycle impacts in the supply chain. GSA’s objective is improving its understanding of services sectors and their effect on the environment.

The study would focus on four sectors: telecommunications; data processing, hosting and related services; custom computer programming services; and facilities support services. The study will be based on fiscal 2011 expenditures.

GSA conducted a study in 2011 that focused on both products and services. A notable conclusion was that services also affect the environment as do products. Meanwhile, the federal government does not have any significant green-purchasing requirements for most service-related procurements, except for electronically submitted deliverables and double-sided printing on 30-percent recycled paper.

“A major reason for this lack of rigorous requirements is due to limited understanding of the causes of lifecycle impacts within most service sectors,” the solicitation states.

In 2013, GSA began a study on six high-impact industries, with four service sectors, to better understand the causes and how to lighten their effects. GSA will continue its study of services with this solicitation.

A better understanding would help GSA in developing a lifecycle, multi-attribute sustainable standard specifically targeted to service providers. Beyond that, GSA is in the acquisition planning stage for several large, governmentwide service contracts. This analysis will inform what sustainability requirements should be included in those contracts.

GSA intends to use the analysis’ results as the basis for strategic participation in standard development activities and to guide agencies’ use of sustainable requirements in procurements.

GSA released its solicitation May 2. Responses are due June 2. GSA expects to make an award June 9. The study will be completed in November 2014.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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