Teleconference Workshop on Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition
August 26, 1999 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time
AL OPERATIONS OFFICE: Christina Houston, Joanne Wright
11:00 Call in and identification of participants
11:10 Susan Weber (DOE-HQ EO 13101 Program Manager) - Greeting and introductions
Welcome to the teleconference. This teleconference is on procurement issues associated with EPA's RCRA Section 6002 and E.O. 13101 http://www.ofee.gov/eo13101/13101.htm, such as DOE's definitions of Reasonable Price, Justifications, and Micro Purchases. In addition to the usual participants, a number of procurement personnel are on the call. For answers, Cindy Vallina from the OMB Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Richard Langston of the DOE Office of Procurement and Financial Assistance Policy are on the call.
Keith Trychta of Argonne National Lab East reported on the first site DOE inspection by EPA under RCRA 6002. The inspection occurred on July 8-9, 1999. Mr. Trychta said the inspection went well and characterized it as fast and unintimidating; affirmative procurement inspectors were part of the team. Site personnel were prepared and aware of what would be inspected. He explained the exchange of forms and information between the inspection team and the site. A more detailed report on the inspection is available on the EO 13101 Web site at http://gerweb.bdm.com/cfdocs/aprs/. Mr. Trychta can be reached at (630) 252-1476 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Weber introduced Richard Langston, who substitued for OPFAP Director Gwen Cowan, who is out of town.
11:20 Richard Langston (DOE-HQ Office of Procurement and Financial Assistance Policy) - Acquisition Letter on Environmental Considerations and Contracting
Mr. Langston explained that the draft Acquisition Letter is intended to implement EO 13101 and support the Affirmative Procurement Program. The Letter has not been circulated, but will be circulated for comments before it is issued. It is to be issued toward the end of the first quarter of the new Fiscal Year (i.e., by the end of December 1999).
The new EO emphasizes a team approach in this area. The Affirmative Procurement Program (AP) is intended to encourage growth of the recycled materials market, but it does not allow payment of premium prices to do so. The Letter does not define premium prices. It establishes preferences, and urges a win/win combination of education and promotion of affirmative procurement.
The purpose of the Letter is to ensure DOE personnel and contractors are fully informed on the orders and the Program. The Letter covers current requirements under EO 13101, FAR guidance, DEAR guidance, and the EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines http://www.epa.gov/cpg/products.htm. The Letter calls for designating a procurement Point of Contact in each contracting activity to act as a recycling/environmental advocate. The Point of Contact is to be the local educator and promoter to ensure that procurement staff can meet the environmental acquisition challenge. These personnel will be knowledgeable of local procurement actors and of teammates across the DOE Complex.
In discussion, Carol Botnam(?) raised the issue of virgin versus recycled materials. Mr. Langston indicated that the Letter does not change standard specifications, nor, in response to another question, does it provide for training support. Susan Weber observed that a team approach is needed between recycling coordinators and procurement advocates and requesters to foster awareness of buying recycled requirements.
11:30 Mike Cox (Westinghouse Procurement, Savannah River) - Definition of "Reasonable Price"
Mr. Cox addressed the Acquisition Letter's establishment of a preference to buy recycled materials without paying premium prices. He noted experiences with the EPA's original categories of recycled materials, and the difficulty of developing new recycled products that must compete against often-cheaper virgin material products. There is no regulatory establishment of set-asides for recycled products. There is a fiduciary issue here. It can be a "catch-22" situation.
Richard Langston said it is possible to specify products with recycled content, but not as a set-aside program. The problem is if the new product costs four times as much. A small difference is okay. Cindy Vallina agreed.
Mike Cox requested that statements on specifying items with recycled content be added to the draft Letter with regard to increased prices and buyer concerns. Langston agreed.
In discussion, Dan Lloyd stated this might not fall under the value-engineering clause. Dana Arnold said calculations should involve the lifecycle cost of products. Arnold later explained the different EPA decision processes associated with EPA-designated products (rulemaking). The newest procurement guidelines should be out at the end of the month. Allie Mansker raised the relation of this to safety with respect to fly ash and construction concrete.
Mary-Ann Somsen of INEEL explained that INEEL considers reasonable price on a case by case basis, and process by which it is done. Generally, recycled products are okay if they are not more than 10-15% higher than virgin products. They follow a volume approach, that is a slightly higher price on a small quantity may be considered reasonable where as that same price on a large quantity might not be reasonable. Procurement officers review every activity and purchase price, from buying to certifying, and retain files for standard transactions. Purchase card holders are not allowed to purchase CPG items.
Tom Stark of LANL noted that LANL's procedures are similar to INEEL's.
11:40 Mary-Ann Somsen (Lockheed - INEEL) - Definition of "Justifications"
Mary-Ann Somsen of INEEL expanded on her description of INEEL's process with regard to justifications. Determination of exempt justifications is based on performance or availability. They are attached to every file in a standardized form. The process is automated; every transaction is coded and can be tracked. Justification documents are maintained in AP files, not in subcontract files. Records are retained for one year and for the reporting period. Justifications are revisited on an annual basis, or more frequently if needed. Ms. Somsen will send information to Susan Weber to post on the EO 13101 web site (APEx1.pdf and APEx2.pdf ). Arnold Edelman of HQ indicated more information is available on both the EPIC and AP web sites.
In discussion, Tom McGeachen of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory noted that his facility uses a similar automated process.
11:50 Richard Langston (DOE-HQ, Office of Procurement and Financial Assistance Policy) - Purchase Cards: Training and Reporting
Richard Langston addressed means of facilitating affirmative procurement by purchase cardholders. A web guide to use of Purchase Cards is at http://www.pr.doe.gov/pr3.html. The program is successful.
AP can work with purchase cards. Card holders log purchases. AP can identify recycled materials from these logs. Sites such as RL, and some other contractors, are automated; most still log by paper. Federal offices all keep manual transaction logs. Each holder gets monthly statements, so it is possible to add inserts on AP or instructions for reporting. It is suggested that site card holder coordinators meet with site recycling coordinators to agree on how to report card purchases of AP products. A statement for acquisition advocates will be added to the draft Acquisition Letter.
In discussion, Mary-Ann Somsen noted one difficulty in cardholder education is certification; it is hard to verify that vendors are purchasing recycled materials. ___ of ORNL said that the burden of proof in their program lies with manufacturers and suppliers, who are asked about recycled content percentage. Richard Langston noted that certifications on micropurchases may be impractical.
Information for Contractors: How to obtain the software PNNL use for tracking and reporting our purchases requiring recycled content. Other sites have the option of either purchasing the software from Credit Card Solutions at (509) 943-7998 or the software can be obtained directly from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at little or no cost. If other sites are interested in learning more about the software from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, they can contact Christopher Armstrong at (509) 375-6570.
Noon Anna Beard (DOE-Richland) - Definition of "Micropurchases"
Anna Beard of RL discussed Hanford's approach to AP purchases in micropurchases; this is a White House Award-winning strategy. Written justifications are required. Agencies provide guidance; see 41 USC 428, section 402. Hanford tracks to the penny.
In discussion, Richard Langston indicated the micropurchase ceiling is $2,500; below that, competition is not required although you should rotate repetitive purchases among vendors. Above that, competition is needed. Dana Arnold noted that RCRA 6002 and EO 13101 do apply to micropurchases. Look to micropurchasing guidance, training to promulgate AP. Report everything associated with micropurchases of designated items, but no written justification is required.
Arnold Edelman, DOE HQ Office of Science, (301) 903-5145, requested participation in a web portal Pilot Program. He discussed the EPIC Web site and system. EPIC is a central point for pollution prevention in DOE and has many links. EPIC and HQ's Office of Environmental Safety and Health are establishing a portal site that connects P2 DOE programs and sites, has a search engine, and a "what's new" section. He asked for volunteer P2 sites, seeking 3 or 4 sites to be actively maintained and linked through the portal.
12:10 Discussion by all - procurement problems and solutions
Satish Shah of ETEC asked for an explanation of the $10,000 threshold in Section 6002. This relates to EPA-designated items that must be reported, although some items are excluded. DOE's AP guidance currently states that all DOE federally operated and contractor-operated sites are together considered one procuring agency. Therefore the $10,000 per item reporting threshold applies to DOE as a whole. Anna Beard of RL noted 41 USC 428, Section 402 has construction exceptions of $10,000 per item or organization to the $2,500 micropurchase ceiling.
Tom McGeachen of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory asked about flow-down of requirements from contractors to subcontractors. Richard Langston said there is no direct flow-down requirement, and promised it would be addressed in the Acquisition Letter. Mike Cox of SR noted the topic is sensitive, and agreed that there is no flow-down requirement.
The government can only control what we put into contracts with our prime (in this case, M&O) contractors. And so we require AP of our primes. We cannot control nor dictate what the primes require of their subcontractors. However, we strongly encourage our contractors to "flow down" these requirements to their contractors, the subs. The primes decided what to require of their contractors. Some do flow down our AP requirements, some don't.
Dan Lloyd asked for explanation of the miscellaneous paper category. Information is available on the EPA CPG web site, the FAR guidelines, and the Recovered Materials notice.
Mary-Ann Somsen discussed how to recognize in purchase logs that an item has recycled content. INEEL uses software that recognizes EPA items; PNL has a similar software. Users choose from lists and check items explaining content and reasons for choice. This software, Purchase Card Solutions (from Credit Card Solutions, Inc) was modified for this capability. Another site indicated tracking through spreadsheets kept by cardholders.
Chris Armstrong of PNNL volunteered to e-mail Susan Weber information on PNNL's software capabilities.
Dan Lloyd asked about software inputs. Items are usually office products, and grouped unless they are individual items on the lists.
Sylvia Galdie of OR stated that their micropurchases are made through EC-Web and asked whether it could be modified to handle AP Reporting. It appears that the system could be modified to do this. OR and HQs are exploring this possibility.
Susan Weber noted there are many different implementation systems, many are not automated, and many contractors have their own systems to do this tracking.
The next EO 13101 Quarterly Teleconference
The next teleconference will be Wednesday, November 17, 1999 at 10 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. It will be broadcast live from the DOE P2 Conference, which is taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 15-19. The topic: "Using EO 13101 to Your Advantage: How to Implement the Government Wide and DOE Strategic Plans." Sites are urged to have CFOs and procurement personnel attend. Richard Langston will be conducting training sessions; he can be reached at (202) 586-8247. Chris Houston, DOE-AL, asked that people send her names for possible attendees and participants in focus discussions.
Susan Weber agreed to post information on the P2 Conference on the EO 13101 web site.
Arnold Edelman noted that the P2 conference is listed in the EPIC "what's new" section.
Gibson Asuquo of the Denver EE Regional Support Office asked when the teleconference minutes would be posted. Susan Weber and Jon Katz of TRW indicated the minutes would be posted within a week.
Richard Langston noted that the draft Acquisition Letter was not on the Web. When it is posted, it will be linked to the P2 site.
Sources of Information applicable to this teleconference:
*U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see EPA's RCRA Section 6002) Guidance on Conducting Inspections of Federal Facilities for Compliance with Section 6002 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, May 12, 1999: "The requirements of RCRA section 6002 apply to such procuring agencies only when procuring designated items where the price of the item exceeds $10,000 or the quantity of the item purchased in the previous year exceeded $10,000. The $10,000 threshold applies to all purchases made by an entire agency rather than regional or local offices (e.g., Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, etc). Most Federal agencies exceed the $10,000 threshold for EPA designated items."
U.S. Department of Energy's EO 13101 home page
Annual report and source of helpful information. For instance, to quickly find the EPA specifications and guidance for the designated products, look at the EO 13101 home page under Affirmative Procurement Program Guidance.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's List of Designated Products
Executive Order 13101 (Replaces EO 12873)
DOE Complex Wide Materials Exchange
This page was last updated on August 04, 2011