Agencies to promote environmentally friendly IT purchases

Representing 83 percent of the federal government's information technology buying power, officials from eleven federal departments and agencies signed a memorandum of understanding Monday committing their offices to developing strategies for using environmentally friendly technologies.

Edwin Piñero, a federal environmental executive, said the combined purchasing power of the agencies represented in the memorandum equals about $50 billion, or 7 percent of the world's information technology expenditures. He hopes that as federal agencies move to more environmentally sound electronic products, the entire market will shift in an ecofriendly direction.

The federal government's 1.8 million employees discard about 10,000 computers a week, assuming a three-year life cycle, according to OFEE. Discarded computers often end up among this country's 2 million tons of discarded electronics, stored in closets, warehouses or dumped in landfills.

"We want to send a message to the millions of federal workers that we're serious about purchasing environmentally sound electronic products and services," Piñero said. "This is quite a lineup of firepower, if you think of all the agencies that are represented."

They include the Executive Office of the President, the Agriculture , Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, Transportation and Veterans Affairs departments, the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration.

Piñero likened this move to President Clinton's 1998 order instructing federal agencies to purchase only recycled paper.

The memorandum commits the agencies to work toward increasing the demand for energy efficient technologies, promoting best practices for computer life cycle management, promoting policies that would reuse, remanufacture and recycle obsolete computer equipment, and coordinating with the public sector to achieve these goals.

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