GSA Acquisition Advisory Committee Releases First Six Recommendations

by Alan Chvotkin, Partner

  • GSA

In June 2022, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan established the GSA Acquisition Policy Federal Advisory Committee (GAP FAC) to serve as an advisory body to the GSA Administrator on how GSA can use its acquisition tools and authorities to target the highest priority Federal acquisition challenges. The 28-member committee held its first meeting in September 2022 and established three subcommittees to organize its work: (1) acquisition workforce; (2) industry partnership; and (3) policy and practices. The Committee has held three additional meetings, with its most recent on May 4, 2023. The committee members determined to make their initial focus on driving regulatory, policy, and process changes required to embed climate and sustainability considerations in Federal acquisition.

After three full committee and nine subcommittee sessions, and 48 presentations, on May 19, 2023, the panel made public its initial set of six recommendations that collectively focus on advancing sustainability and climate considerations in federal acquisitions. Each of the Panel’s three subcommittees contributed to this initial set of recommendations, some with subparts to expand further on the concepts in the primary recommendation. None of the recommendations appear to require either legislative or regulatory changes. The full report is now available.

The Acquisition Workforce Subcommittee made three primary recommendations: implementing a change acceleration strategy; making sustainability a core foundational capability across the acquisition workforce; and creating acquisition sustainability experts through a new sustainable certification. The Subcommittee also previewed its second priority: to identify the critical levers needed to empower the acquisition workforce to prioritize outcomes and promote sustainability with the least amount of effort.

The Industry Partnership Subcommittee made two primary recommendations: identify, engage and onboard innovative new entrants; and sponsor a maturity model for embedding sustainability and climate risk mitigation. Future recommendations to be explored by this Subcommittee include sponsoring an industry networking group directory exchange; creating a digital marketplace of best practices; and creating incentives for large suppliers to partner with small businesses and new entrants.

The Policy and Practice Subcommittee made one primary recommendation: reducing single-use plastics and packaging. Among this Subcommittee’s areas for future consideration for GSA include working on research and market development programs in biobased materials and avoiding “unintended consequences, such as regrettable substitutions.”

There is only limited supporting information to explain these recommendations, and no suggested timelines, or what specific actions are required to implement the proposals, or who has the authority within GSA or across government to adopt and implement these recommendations. It is even hard to know whether the recommendations will have any short-term effect of impacting sustainability and climate considerations in federal acquisition.

But the recommendations make it clear that the GAP FAC can come together on meaningful proposals. The GAP FAC charter is expansive yet challenging, giving the committee a wide berth to look deeply into GSA’s federal acquisition policies, practices and priorities. The GAP FAC has many well-known members from a wide range of disciplines and experiences, both in government and from the private sector. So there is reason to be optimistic that, in the near future, the panel will make more robust and actionable recommendations, as well.

Government contracting companies, particularly those that rely heavily on GSA acquisition contracts and policies, should take advantage of the Committee’s outreach by providing a public presentation to help inform the committee’s future actions. Centre Law has extensive experience in helping clients work with advisory committees and submitting impactful comments. GSA and the Federal government should benefit from the Committee’s expertise and its future work.

If you have any questions, please contact the author or the Centre Law Group attorney with whom you normally work.