Implementing Sustainability in Federal Agencies: An Early Assessment of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514
“As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally responsible products and technologies,” said President Obama. This EO is an attempt to make operational the concept of sustainability. By pushing the integration of environmental, energy, and transportation indicators, the EO combines into one strategy the core elements of sustainability.
The purpose of this report is to describe the initial implementation of Executive Order 13514. The report aims to:
- Examine the EO as a strategy for promoting sustainability in federal agencies
- Assess its early implementation—its strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement
- Offer recommendations for the next phases of implementing the EO
The report is prepared in the second year of Executive Order 13514’s implementation. Given the 10-year timeframe of targets and goals, this is an early assessment of the EO and its implementation strategy. The first year (2010) was one of planning, collecting data, and creating the organizational and information infrastructure needed for implementation. The primary planning tool required by the EO, the Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, was submitted by agencies to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in June 2010.
During the second year of the EO (2011), agencies have shifted from planning to implementation. The final year for implementation of the EO, based on the target dates for all the goals, is 2020. Agencies are thus just at the start of the entire process.
We offer this report as an implementation analysis, not a program evaluation. It is far too early for an evaluation of EO 13514; there are few outcomes to assess. An implementation analysis, on the other hand, may be helpful at this point in time. Our goal is that this report will provide the groundwork for subsequent evaluations to be conducted later in the EO’s implementation process. The concept of sustainability is a unifying principle of Executive Order 13514 and it represents a significant effort to articulate the concept of sustainability and incorporate it into national policy.