The General Services Administration is calling on the federal government to eliminate its environmental impact through green technology and smarter acquisition decisions, agency officials said on Wednesday.
“GSA has to embrace a zero environmental footprint goal. We should set our sights on eliminating the impact of the federal government on our natural environment,” said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson during a speech on Wednesday evening. “This is our moon shot.”
In an earlier conference call with reporters, Johnson said a zero footprint is a big strategic idea that hasn’t yet been translated into specific programs. But, she added, the agency aims to build leadership around sustainability, develop across-the-board training and awareness and attract young professionals who relate to the mission.
“The first thing you start quibbling about is, ‘What does it mean, how do we know it, where do we start measuring, how will we get the biggest bang for the buck?’ ” she said. “We want to have those kinds of conversations.”
When it comes to green technology, government needs to look at the whole IT life cycle to identify energy-saving solutions, Johnson said. For example, data center consolidation, smart building technology, virtual workplaces and reduced computing power all offer ways to build sustainability.
“It also invites the issue of employee culture. We can put in all kinds of dials and switches, but there is behavior that comes along with it, and we need to engage everyone in that conversation,” she added.
GSA also is working to shore up its workforce, said Steve Kempf, acting commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service. The agency must fill its vacant full-time positions to improve service to its customers and to relieve the burden on staff, he added. Specific initiatives include recruitment of mid-level career employees, an FAS internship program and opportunities to rotate through positions to build management and information technology skills.
The agency’s fiscal 2011 budget request includes $25 million for acquisition workforce initiatives, including improved training, a more careful accounting of workforce strengths and gaps, and a stronger community-building program for sharing best practices.
“This is a way for GSA to have its own moon shot,” said Johnson. “We’re both positioned and poised and ready and eager to play a more aggressive role in this.”
– By Emily Long – 05/05/10 – © 2010 BY NATIONAL JOURNAL GROUP, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED