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GSA’s Martha Johnson Urges ‘Zero-Environmental Footprint’

Green globe in handsInstead of making efforts to minimize damage done to the environment, the General Services Administration must work toward a zero-environmental footprint goal, said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson.

Speaking at the 2010 GSA Expo – Coalition for Government Procurement Partnership Dinner, Johnson said it was not just a question of limiting the federal government’s impact on the natural environment but bringing it down to “zero footprint.”

To achieve this “unbelievable, wild, magnificent, over the top goal,” she said GSA will have to work harder than it has ever done before to find new innovative ideas and take risks outside its existing comfort range.

“A zero environmental footprint goal will galvanize the workforce and our partners and attract the best of the next generation’s smart, idealistic and determined talent,” Johnson said. “A zero footprint goal will pull change through our systems, ratchet our priorities away from petting process and towards solving society’s real needs. A zero footprint goal will electrify our confidence in our future.”

The administrator detailed steps to take in achieving the zero environmental footprint objectives, including new approaches and philosophies on sustainability, better business thinking, and partnership. She also noted that because GSA knows a lot about what works and what does not in the efforts at environmental management, it is important to avoid “inventing the wheel that is already known.”

Reach a zero-footprint goal is not possible without a significant trail of successes and failure, Johnson said. Sustainability requires everyone to assess, choose and manage risk, and it will begin with “a ‘fail fast’ culture in which we try things, try bite-sized things, win some quickly, lose some quickly, and learn from mistakes.”

“We must learn to ‘fail fast’ with you, our industry partners,” she said. “Let’s share more than our best practices. Let’s also share the ‘let ’em rest’ practices. Let’s talk about what didn’t work as well so that we don’t have to reinvent that wheel, too.”

Johnson concluded her speech with highlighting the need for a strong partnership in which GSA and its allies work alongside to design, innovate, act as a proving ground, measure, and make gains on the final goal.

“If our customers succeed, GSA succeeds, and we ALL succeed,” she said. “Sustainability is the way of our future. We are not just shooting for the moon … we’re shooting for a planet … a sustainable planet called planet Earth. How could we go for anything less?”

Martha Johnson will be speaking at the Potomac Officers Club on June 2nd. Click here for details

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