GSA Policy Would Push Federal Contractors For Better Management of Used Electronics

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GSA E-Waste Disposal Policy for Federal Contractors  

Key Development: Federal contractors using federal funds to purchase electronic equipment will be prohibited from disposing of used devices in landfills under an upcoming regulation from the General Services Administration.

What's Next: GSA plans to issue draft changes to the Federal Management Regulation within 90 days, which will include updated policies for e-waste disposal.

By Anthony Adragna  

Federal contractors who use federal funds to purchase electronic equipment will be prohibited from disposing of used devices in landfills under an upcoming regulation from the General Services Administration.

A GSA official told BNA March 26 the agency would release the draft version of changes to the Federal Management Regulation within 90 days and would publish a final version by the end of the fiscal year.

The FMR, at 41 C.F.R. Part 102, prescribes policies concerning federal property management and related administrative activities.

Only federal contractors that use federal funds to purchase electronics laptops, mobile phones, copy machines, and similar electronics would be subject to the new regulations, according to the official.

Like the recently announced regulations for electronics purchased and used by federal agencies, contractors would be required to first offer used electronics for reuse and send nonfunctional devices to certified e-waste recyclers.

The new regulations are the latest step by the Obama administration to improve management of electronic waste.

In July 2011, an interagency task force issued the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship with a series of steps and projects to improve the federal government's management of used electronic products. On March 1, GSA announced new guidelines for maximizing the life span of electronics purchased by the federal government and mandating responsible recycling when the devices can no longer be used.

Under the amended Federal Acquisition Regulation, which will take effect April 2, federal contractors will be referred to the agency's policies in the Federal Management Regulation. The FAR codifies uniform policies and procedures for federal agencies to follow when obtaining goods and services (48 C.F.R. Part 1).

The Federal Management Regulation will be updated to include the new electronics stewardship standards. Contractors do not have to comply with the new guidelines until the Federal Management Regulation changes become final, which is expected by the end of the year.

Participation in e-waste management programs remains limited throughout the government, according to a report released March 19 by the Government Accountability Office. Less than a third of the federal workforce actively takes part in the Federal Electronics Challenge, a voluntary program that encourages federal agencies to purchase and manage electronic products in an environmentally conscious way.

Recycling used electronics is an increasingly large problem for the government. The GAO report found the government disposes of 10,000 computers every week and the Wall Street Journalfound the government issued 140,000 contracts valued at $11 billion to outside organizations in 2011 alone.

The Professional Services Council and the Coalition for Government Procurement were unavailable for comment on the new regulations.