Federal contractors - have you recently updated your reps and certs in SAM?
If you've recently been in GSA's System for Awards Management, you've run into the new FAR requirement for certain contractors to make representations about their public disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories and goals. For more background on the rule, check out our prior blog posts here and here.
If you haven't recently updated your reps and certs, the new representations are required for most contractors under FAR provisions 52.204-7 and 52.223-22 (and an equivalent at 52.212-3 for commercial/COTS items).
The trigger is simple: If your company received $7.5+ million in Federal contracts during the prior Federal fiscal year, you are required to make the representations. If your company was below $7.5 million in FY16, you may voluntarily choose to report on your public GHG disclosures but are not required do to so.
The GHG reps appear in Question 32 (FAR response page 4). The image below is a screen shot from the SAM reps section, after selecting "yes" for the first value (i.e., the company received $7.5+ million in Federal contracts during the prior Federal fiscal year).
The image below is from the most recent SAM Questionnaire for Representations and Certifications (Reps and Certs user guide) (February 24, 2017).
There is a noted departure between the final FAR rule and how the representation is stated in SAM. The SAM language implies that GHG emissions inventories and goals must be publicly disclosed (for those with $7.5+M the prior Federal fiscal year). In the final rule making, however, the FAR Council was very clear that they are only seeking information about whether companies are making public GHG disclosures. So, the FAR just requires you to report whether or not you publicly disclose GHG emissions inventories/reduction goals. If you already publicly disclose either an emissions inventory and/or reduction goals, you are required to provide a link to the publicly accessible web site where the disclosure(s) have been made.
If you're new to GHG emissions reporting or goal setting, we can help you navigate these new representations. Give us a call at (888) 807-5237 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sharing a couple news items regarding GSA's Alliant 2 GWAC.
1. GAO recently denied protests. Evaluations and awards can now proceed. See the January 11th decision here.
2. GSA issued a revised Information Collection Request (ICR) notice for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information required under Alliant 2's Section G.25. Based on comments to the first ICR notice, including those of Corporate Sustainability Advisors, GSA has a new burden estimate for the GHG reporting. Per the new calculation, GSA estimates that the average Alliant 2 awardee will take about 120 hours each year to comply with the G.25 provisions. This is up from GSA's original estimate of 80 hours. The revised ICR notice is here. The public comment period closes February 13th.
New Rule: Federal Government Contractors Required to Make Representations About GHG Emissions Public Disclosures
Federal agencies have amended the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to require certain contractors to indicate whether or not they publicly share information about their corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory or goals. Published in the Federal Register on November 18 (81 FR 83092), the new rule does not actually require contractors to calculate or reduce their GHG emissions, just that they indicate whether they publicly disclose either emissions or goals information.
In the final rulemaking the government clarified the purpose and goals of the FAR modifications. The representations are intended to help the government better understand, not regulate, the GHG management practices of its industry partners. The rule is designed to be a low-burden, minimally intrusive effort to enable greater insight into the GHG management practices of the federal supply chain.
Effective December 19, 2016, the final FAR rule establishes an annual representation requirement for contractors to indicate whether or not they publicly disclose GHG emissions data and/or emissions reduction goals. For companies that do publicly disclose such information, they must also indicate where it is publicly available on the Internet. The requirements are applicable to companies that had $7.5+ million in federal contract awards in the prior federal fiscal year.
The final rule is almost identical to the proposed rule released in May 2016 (81 FR 33192). Some minor clarifications where made to address comments made to the draft rule.
New FAR provision 52.223-22 (and an equivalent at 52.212-3 for commercial/COTS items) representations:
The new rule may be a target for repeal by the incoming administration because it is based on an Executive Order of President Obama (EO 13693). On the other hand, the EO and rule mirror the supply chain practices of many successful US-based and global corporations. Applying such practices to the US government’s $400 billion supply chain could well have bi-partisan appeal as they will likely result in cost savings to the companies and taxpayers alike.
GHG management is closely connected with cost savings from energy use reduction, and serves as an indicator of operational efficiency and excellent management practices. Thus, organizations that purchase large volumes of goods and services (e.g., AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart) have started asking their supply chain (i.e., the companies they buy from) about these practices.
Private and publicly-traded companies are enhancing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, including disclosing details about their GHG management and other sustainability practices through tools such as the CDP and the GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database. For example, nearly 10,000 organizations have submitted more than 35,000 reports via the GRI database. Last year, companies representing more than 50% of the combined market capitalization of the G20 reported emissions data to CDP. These public disclosures, and the management efforts behind them, help the bottom line.
In response to these efficiency opportunities, supply chain management practices, and investor expectations, many federal contractors already have GHG and energy management programs. This is especially true of the largest contractors. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) just released the 2016 Federal Supplier GHG Management Scorecard that reflects a survey of approximately 80 companies and represents $214+ billion in FY15 federal procurement spending (about half the annual contracted amount). Of those surveyed, about 57% (by count) or 73% (by contracted dollars) have public GHG emissions inventories in 2015 or 2016.
Slightly fewer have public GHG reduction goals for 2016 or beyond—about 44% (by count) or 62% (by contracted dollars).
Whether or not the new rule remains in effect throughout the next administration’s term, there are compelling business reasons for federal contractors and other companies to manage their GHG emissions and energy use.
E&E Publishing’s ClimateWire ran a story today, September 12, reporting on the draft FAR clause proposed by the DOD, GSA, and NASA in May 2016. As earlier blogged here, the proposed rule is expected to impact some 5,500 federal contractors, including about 2,700 small businesses.
As drafted, federal contractors with $7.5+ million annually in federal awards will have to disclose whether they publicly report on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management. The proposed rule also raised the possibility of seeking similar disclosures about whether federal contractors publicly report if they conduct any climate risk analyses. Firms under $7.5 million will be encouraged, but not required, to disclose their GHG reporting.
I was pleased to share my thoughts on and support of the proposed rule for the ClimateWire article. Corporate Sustainability Advisors also submitted a comment letter to the government supporting the proposed rule and encouraging the government further address its supply chain emissions. This proposed rule is a small step forward for the federal government to mirror what the private sector has been doing with its supply chain for years.
To a large extent, publicly-traded federal contracting companies already disclose their GHG emissions to meet investor expectations. There is a close connection between GHG emissions and energy use. Companies that proactively address their GHG emissions often see reductions in their operational costs compared to business-as-usual scenarios where energy usage and costs are frequently ignored. Transparency about GHG emissions provides vital information to customers, investors, and taxpayers.
On a related matter, GSA is seeking public comment on the information collection request (ICR) associated with the GHG and other sustainability reporting that will be required of the new Alliant 2 unrestricted contract winners. The comment period closes on October 24th. As previously blogged here, section G.25 of the Alliant 2 contract terms requires the awardees to publish a “Sustainable Practices and Impacts Disclosure” or SPID within 12 months of the notice to proceed of the master contract and annually thereafter for the life of the contract. After award, Alliant 2 contractors will have to a complete Scope 1 and 2 GHG inventory 12 months after the first SPID (i.e., 2 years after the notice to proceed). GSA provides another 12 months before the contractors must set and report on their GHG reduction targets. GSA is encouraging, but not requiring Scope 3 GHG reporting. GSA will evaluate compliance for these disclosure requirements via the Contractor Performance Assessment Rating Systems (CPARS) annual review.
The General Services Administration (GSA) just released the request for proposals (RFP) for the $50 billion Alliant 2 government wide acquisition contract (GWAC) for information technology (IT) services. The Alliant 2 GWAC has been in the news as the future of government IT contracting because of its evaluation process and flexibility to provide leading edge technology solutions.
An innovative requirement for the unrestricted contract that hasn’t made the headlines or many bidders radar is Section G.25. This section requires the awardees to publish a “Sustainable Practices and Impacts Disclosure” or SPID within 12 months of award of the master contract and annually thereafter for the life of the contract.
In my experience and research, most federal contracting firms do not have sustainability programs, apart from some of the largest companies. And, as indicated by CEQ’s 2015 Federal Supplier Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Management Scorecard, even the majority of the largest federal contracting companies do not have greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction goals.
GSA and other agencies are giving the contracting community time to build-out their sustainability programs. For example, the Alliant 2 contract doesn’t require its contractors to have a complete Scope 1 and 2 GHG inventory until 12 months after the first SPID. GSA provides another 12 months before the contractors must set and report on their GHG reduction targets. GSA is encouraging, but not requiring Scope 3 GHG reporting. GSA will evaluate compliance for these disclosure requirements via the Contractor Performance Assessment Rating Systems (CPARS) annual review.
These contract mandates mark a big change in the federal market. The feds have been following the lead of large commercial retailers and manufacturers to reduce costs and environmental impacts from their own operations for almost a decade. Now, like Walmart and Nike, the federal government is also working to green its supply chain.
In all likelihood this represents the future of federal contracting for most large and mid-sized firms. Even for many small businesses. As Kevin Kampschroer, GSA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, recently noted, “By disclosing [GHG and other sustainability impacts], GSA’s private sector partners can prepare themselves to do business with us in the future, as the agency continues to incorporate carbon disclosure goals and performance criteria into specific contracts.”
For those who think these supply chain greening efforts will only impact firms that support civilian agencies, think again. The DoD, Air Force, and Army have been the three biggest buyers on the Alliant 1 GWAC. In addition, here are three other recent indicators to illustrate the scope of this trend.
To all future Alliant 2 winners, do not underestimate the time it takes to build a sustainability program robust enough to have GHG reporting and reduction goals. As a significant co-benefit to contractual compliance, however, you’re likely to realize cost savings from reduced energy use. It’s never too soon to start planning (and saving).
Hi. I'm Colleen, Corporate Sustainability Advisor's founder and owner. Blogging about corporate sustainability trends, benefits, and best practices.