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Greening of the Government
It's been a year since President Barack Obama issued the executive order requiring agencies to reduce the amount of energy they use. Over the past 12 months, agencies have been putting the infrastructure in place to begin to tackle these goals. So, just how much of a difference are these mandates making? Is it lip service or real change? Federal News Radio analyzes the impact the programs and policies are having in making the government more green in our series Greening of the Government.
Federal Executive Boards spread the green word
Thursday - 10/7/2010, 7:02am EDT
Federal News Radio
Many federal green government initiatives originate at the White House and implementation is often directed from agency headquarters in Washington. But those mandates often are fulfilled at regional and state offices of many agencies. And that's where the Federal Executive Boards come in.
The Federal Executive Boards across the country are lifelines between Washington and the local and regional federal offices. The Office of Personnel Management coordinates the work of the FEBs.
Of the 28 Federal Executive Boards, only two currently have full-scale active programs dealing with the President's green government initiatives.
Earlier this week, OPM Director John Berry announced that feds in the Washington area will have a bikesharing program in D.C. and Arlington to use to get around the city and surrounding area.
That program now is being replicated in other parts of the country, specifically in Denver, according to Gay Page, executive director of the Colorado Federal Executive Board,
"We are currently working on a collaborative effort with the General Services Administration, Health and Human Services, Federal Occupational Health, and other agencies, to start a bikesharing program on the Denver Federal Center campus," said Page in an interview with Federal News Radio Wednesday after her panel at the Green Gov Symposium, sponsored by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the George Washington University in Washington. "We're collaborating with the city of Denver because they established a bikeshare program shortly after the Democratic National Convention was held there a couple of years ago, and we're using theirs as a model to extend to the federal center campus which is approximately 10 miles from the city center of Denver."
Page also said they are working to extend that bikesharing program with the city of Lakewood, Colo., the community that she says literally surrounds the Denver Federal Center. Such an extension would make it possible for feds to use those bikes during their lunch hour to grab a meal or do errands.
Page said that despite the support of the FEB, and the highly motivated federal executives who sit on the board, collaboration on green government can be a challenge for regional employees because of the crunch of other mandates that arrive on their desks.
"It's actually more difficult to help agencies implement that in the field than it would be in the Washington, D.C. area, because they are so disperse and there are so many other things on their plates that they are mandated to do," Page said.
Farther west, the Seattle Federal Executive Board represents federal agencies spread across a multi-state region in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.
Melanie Wood with the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle works with the Seattle FEB on an interagency council on sustainability, which includes EPA, GSA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and as many as 10 others.
"The Environmental Leadership Committee (ELC) really came from four or five individuals representing their agencies that felt they had the mission about sustainability," Wood said. "They saw the vision long before some of us came to it. And they recognized that there was a lot more synergy between federal agencies to collaborate together. So under the mantle of the Federal Executive Board, they came to the director at the time and proposed that we form this team, and then we had to create a charter and a proposal, but aligned with the principles of a Federal Executive Board."
Wood said in an interview with Federal News Radio that one of the challenges is that some agencies drop out of such groups, or the executives involved have their jobs redefined, precluding their continued participation.
Still, she said FEB councils like the ELC are a wonderful way for feds to meet other feds from other agencies and understand the opportunities for interagency collaboration.
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