Collaborating for a More Sustainable Supply Chain in Public Procurement (Part 3)

This is the final part in Public Spend Forum's popular series on sustainability, written by Tim Laseter and Nancy Gillis. If you haven’t already, read part one and part two.

Making the Business Case

While the federal government is uniquely qualified to create an “Über community,” success depends upon the voluntary engagement of the business community. Does the Sustainable Supply Chain Community of Practice meet the hurdles of an economic business case for the practitioners?

Henry Ward, former Director of Global Supply Chain Sustainability at Dow Chemical, highlighted the most obvious advantage of the Community of Practice, and his motivation for attending the inaugural session: “This event brought together lots of stakeholder that I don’t normally interact with. I knew maybe 25 percent of this highly regarded group of thought leaders, so it was a great opportunity to learn.”

Guy Schweppe, Vice President of Enterprise, Mobility and Software Procurement at the $62 billion computing behemoth Dell shared his perspective after the community launch: “When you see the tiers of the government’s supply base and the complexity of the logistics networks… the impact of their moving to a more sustainable supply chain is staggering.” Previously, in July of 2011, Dell’s CEO joined EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to release the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship. The strategy outlines actions the federal government is taking to ensure the proper handling of its used electronics and spur the growth of the U.S. electronics recycling industry. Dell’s engagement in the community of practice furthers the company’s commitment to addressing “end of life” issues. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the government to learn from the lead- ing practices shared in the community to modify bids around sustainable solutions and take a more holistic view of lifecycle costs,” Schweppe added.

Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer and V.P. of Supply Chain Operations James Gowen shared the following: “The GSA’s goal of leading by example is very encouraging and will hopefully trigger sustainable practices throughout the government’s supply chain.” Gowen oversees $2.5 billion in annual spending and half a billion dollars in annual inventory as he works with Verizon vendors and business partners to drive sup- ply chain efficiency. He highlighted the value of gathering input and encouraging dialogue. “A ‘Community of Practice’ collaborative but strategic approach will allow the most valuable ideas and solutions to the challenging environmental problems we face today to rise to the top,” Gowen said. “With, we can expand our transparency, generate actionable data and engage a wider set of minds to improve the federal supply chain on a continual basis.”

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