Selling Greener Products and Services to the Federal Government
The U.S. federal government is the single largest consumer in the world, spending more than $650 billion on products and services each year. Various laws, Presidential Executive Orders and procurement regulations require federal agencies to purchase “greener” products and services. A vast market opportunity exists for vendors who provide these green products.
General Services Administration (GSA) has put together a guide that is intended to assist vendors in selling green products and services to the federal government. This webpage also provides a lot of additional information. Read the GSA guide for more information.
It is helpful when marketing green products and services to the federal government to be familiar with the current federal green purchasing requirements applicable to that product or service category.
Look for your product or service in this tool to see what requirements apply: A database of federal green purchasing requirements by product and service category is located at GSA's Green Procurement Compilation (GPC).
The GSA's Green Procurement Compilation also:
- Provides links to related EPA, Department of Energy and US Department of Agriculture environmental programs.
- Indicates whether programs are mandatory, give a preference, or help achieve an agency's overall purchasing goals.
- Identifies the applicable Federal Acquisition Regulation provisions.
- Identifies and links to potential procurement vehicles, such as GSA multiple award schedules, programs and purchasing agreements.
Executive Order 13834, section 7 and the accompanying Implementing Instructions direct each principal federal agency (where “principal” is defined in the Implementing Instructions) to develop an annual Sustainability Plan, which summarizes actions implemented to meet the goals of E.O. 13834 (revoked by Executive Order 13990 except for sections 6,7, and 11), progress results, cost savings, and the agency’s strategies for continued progress and performance improvements. Being aware of these can help vendors demonstrate how procurement of their greener products and services will help specific federal agencies meet their sustainable purchasing goals.
- Read Executive Order 13834 (revoked by Executive Order 13990 except for sections 6,7, and 11).
Knowing what Agencies have procured in the past can help determine what they may be interested in procuring in the future. The General Services Administration's (GSA) Integrated Award Environment operates and maintains the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation. The FPDS is the central repository of statistical information on federal contracting and can be a very useful tool for market research. The system contains detailed information on contract actions over $25,000 and summary data on procurements of less than $25,000. The system identifies who bought what, from whom, for how much, when and where. The FPDS maintains historical contracting information dating back to 1981.
Forecasts help vendors identify procurements that offer opportunities for their participation early in the acquisition process. They also help to enhance vendors' knowledge of requirements and increase competition for government contracts. The forecasts are for planning purposes only. They provide information such as description code, estimated dollar value, fiscal year, contracting officer, phone number, target award date and method of procurement.
Both current and potential government vendors are required to register in the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to be awarded contracts. A vendor must be registered in the SAM prior to the award of a contract. Check out the SAM.
Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps): Federal Business Opportunities, is the single point of universal electronic public access on the Internet for government-wide, federal procurement opportunities/solicitations that exceed $25,000. Government buyers post business opportunities on the FedBizOpps site. Commercial vendors seeking federal markets for their products and services can search, monitor and retrieve opportunities/solicitations posted by the entire federal contracting community through this portal. FedBizOpps also sends feedback to vendors through an e-mail notification service.
GSA Schedules and GSA Advantage!: GSA's Federal Supply Schedules, or Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program awards long-term government wide contracts with commercial firms to provide federal agencies access to millions of commercial products and services at volume discount pricing. The schedules cover a wide variety of commercial items from office supplies and construction and building materials to information technology equipment and services ranging from landscaping to graphic design. Schedule purchases represent approximately 21 percent of overall federal procurement spending--approximately $42 Billion per year. Several Multiple Award Schedule contracts include requirements that the products and services sold via these Schedules meet the relevant federal green purchasing requirements. Other schedules provide an option for vendors to offer green products.
In FY2019, approximately $718 million in sales were made via GSA Advantage!®. Agencies can browse available Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) and GSA Global Supply items and select the one that is the best value for their requirements. MAS vendors also have the opportunity to highlight their green products on GSA Advantage!® with environmental icons, allowing customers to quickly identify products that meet green purchasing requirements. Environmental icons are added to product listings by vendors via the Schedules Input Program (SIP). Documentation to substantiate the use of environmental attributes, or icons, in GSA Advantage!® may include:
- Product specifications
- Product test documents
- Product labeling
- Certification from a third-party test facility
- For distributors, a letter of compliance confirmation from manufacturers
- Identification of the product by the agency that manages the label or program
This site includes information on how to get your products and/or services added to the GSA Advantage!® online shopping site, GSA's Multiple Award Schedules and GSA's Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs).
The site also provides information on how to access and utilize eBuy, GSA's electronic Request for Quote (RFQ) / Request for Proposal (RFP) system designed to allow government buyers to request information, find sources and prepare RFQs/RFPs, online, for services and products offered through GSA's MAS and GSA Technology Contracts. In FY2014, over $9.4 billion in sales were made via GSA's e-Buy. Check out the eBuy website.
Department of Defense (DOD)'s FedMall: An Internet-based electronic catalog system run by the Defense Logistics Agency that is available to federal buyers. The FedMALL uses a powerful search engine to access product information from a wide variety of government- and supplier-managed catalogs. The FedMALL includes spare parts and logistics support items traditionally procured and inventoried by DoD and a wide variety of commercial products available from private industry.
The DoD FedMALL brings together government customers who need commercial and military products and DoD approved vendors. Customers can browse through electronic catalogs to compare price, delivery terms and payment options, and purchase on-line the product that best suits their need.
For assistance in using DOD FedMALL, contact the Customer Interaction Center at 1-877-352-2255.
Procurement Marketing and Access Network (PRO-Net): PRONet is an electronic gateway of procurement information for and about small businesses. It is a search engine for contracting officers, a marketing tool for small firms and a "link" to procurement opportunities. It is an Internet-based database of information on more than 200,000 small, disadvantaged, 8(a) and women-owned businesses. It is free to federal and state government agencies as well as prime and other contractors seeking small business contractors, subcontractors and/or partnership opportunities.
The SBDCs provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories. SBDCs help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing global marketplace. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Subcontracting Network (Sub-Net): Sub-Net is managed by the Small Business Administration is being used to post subcontracting opportunities. These may or may not be reserved for small businesses and they may include other solicitations or notices, including notices of sources for subcontractors on future contracts. Sub-Net is used by federal agencies, state and local governments and educational entities.
Department of Defense (DoD) Subcontracting Directory: This web site lists all major DoD prime contractors by state and provides points of contact (Small Business Liaison Officer) within each firm.
Ability One Program: This is a federal initiative that creates job opportunities for Americans who are blind or have other severe disabilities. As a mandatory source of supply, nonprofit agencies associated with the Ability One Program offer a wide variety of products and services to the federal government. Ability One associated nonprofit agencies also perform services at federal offices and military installations. These service contracts incorporate recycled and biobased products.