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November 11, 2013 3:30 AM, EST

GSA May Tie Emissions to Large U.S. Parcel Pact

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Nov. 11 print edition of Transport Topics.

The U.S. General Services Administration may require the carrier that wins the federal government’s contract for domestic package deliveries to file regular reports on how it is reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions and using alternative fuels.

A draft of the proposed contract, which could be worth $1.5 billion over five years, is being circulated by GSA. The start date on the contract is Oct. 1, 2014.

“It is the government’s intent to reduce as far as practicable the environmental impacts of services provided under this contract,” GSA said in its draft.

The agency did not return calls for additional comment by press time.

Contractors would be required to be members of the SmartWay Transport Partnership, the joint effort of the government and freight-hauling sector to improve environmental performance through the use of fuel- and emissions-reducing strategies.

“GSA will be assessing contractors on their current existing capabilities to report on environmental metrics and the result of those metrics [if available] for the most recent reporting periods,” the agency said in its draft.

It said the metrics would include fleetwide greenhouse gas “intensity,” renewable fuels use, emissions of pollutants and fuel efficiency.

“Additionally, GSA will assess contractors based on annual targets and their plan in place to improve the contractor’s environmental performance,” the draft document said.

The contract next year will be the third GSA has let for domestic package delivery. The current contract was won by UPS Inc. and expires Sept. 30, 2014. GSA said it spent about $118 million as part of the contract during fiscal 2012.

The first contract, started in 2006, went to FedEx Corp. Fourteen government agencies, from the Veterans Administration and the Peace Corps to the Departments of Interior and Labor, are developing the final contract. 

To meet the contract specifications, bidders have to be able to deliver to all addresses in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, providing services to at least 95% of all domestic ZIP codes.

Both FedEx and UPS are members of the SmartWay partnership, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Neither FedEx nor UPS would comment directly on the specifications circulated by GSA.

“FedEx seeks to connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways,” the carrier said in a statement prepared for Transport Topics. “We strive to be an environmental leader in the transportation industry and are committed to providing excellent customer service.”

UPS said: “We don’t really comment on open bids, although we do have a great story to tell on using alternative fuels and technologies.”

American Trucking Associations said it had reservations about the emissions and fuel-use references in the contract draft.

“The reporting requirement in the draft contract appears significantly to exceed reporting under SmartWay,” said Bill Wanamaker, ATA’s director of government traffic and security operations.

“ATA’s concern is that special- interest fuel purveyors will seek self-serving mandates in other government freight programs,” Wanamaker said.