Two federal agencies have joined forces with the Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) program to promote purchasing that's beneficial to the environment and to the blind and disabled communities, JWOD officials announced Monday.
A memorandum of agreement (MOA) among participants in the JWOD program, the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will link JWOD's full-force efforts to go green with a renewed commitment on the part of the agencies to purchasing from suppliers employing the blind and disabled.
The JWOD program coordinates the efforts of non-profit agencies associated with the National Association for the Blind (NIB) and NISH (which represents individuals with a range of severe handicaps) in selling products and services to the government. Federal purchasers must attempt to procure these items from non-profits affiliated with JWOD before going elsewhere to do so. The program is administered by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.
DOI's part in the agreement is to serve as a role model for other government agencies. The department will attempt to boost JWOD sales by highlighting its products as an efficient means of meeting the strict recycling standards the agency imposes on its employees. Moreover, Interior will remind those doing procurement that, because of the life-cycle and environmental benefits of its "green" products, JWOD suppliers may still meet the "best value" criterion even where their prices are slightly higher.
EPA, on the other hand, will serve as a technical advisor to the program, offering insight on how participants might increase their stock of green products and providing training on environmental issues. They will also prominently advertise JWOD products that meet the agency's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, which require that federal, state or local agencies that receive federal funds and purchase more than $10,000 worth of one item purchase only items made from recovered material.
For their part, NIB, NISH and the Committee promise to step up efforts to identify and market their green products and to work with affiliated agencies on increasing the scope of such products currently offered. NISH, which focuses on services over product manufacturing, will transform their janitorial and groundskeeping programs by promoting the exclusive use of EPA-approved cleaning and gardening products among JWOD participants.
The voluntary three-year pact, signed on August 10, builds off three previous federal environmental initiatives; the 1990 Pollution Prevention Act, 1998's Executive Order 13101, "Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition" and Executive Order 13134, "Developing and Promoting Biobased Products and Bioenergy", which was issued by President Clinton in August of last year.
The MOA follows closely on Interior's opening of a JWOD-run Office Eagle supply store in its Washington, DC headquarters. The first-of-its-kind store, operated by three employees with disabilities, two of whom are visually impaired, stocks almost entirely environmentally-friendly products and was constructed using recycled paint and energy efficient lighting. The effort to capitalize on the green government movement is part of a larger strategy by NIB and NISH to remain competitive in the decentralized government procurement market of the new century.