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Improving Acquisition Process is Key Challenge to Meeting Energy Goals, Robyn Says

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  • April 1, 2012
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One of the primary challenges to the Pentagon meeting its goals for conserving energy and increasing its reliance on renewable sources is streamlining the acquisition process, the department’s top installations official told the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee last week.

“Our strategy calls for heavy reliance on private financing both to retrofit our buildings and to develop renewable energy on our bases. Our acquisition process is extremely cumbersome; we need to improve that if we want to attract the best private firms,” Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, said in her opening remarks.

The Army has made significant strides, however, in streamlining the acquisition process for energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs), she added.

When Ranking Member Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam) asked Robyn about the president’s goal of using $2.4 billion in third-party investments to reduce the energy intensity of federal facilities 30 percent by 2015, she reiterated the need to improve the contracting process, and said the department did not need any additional authority to meet the president’s target.

“I think we’re good. … We have to fix the acquisition process so companies will work with us,” Robyn responded.

In her written testimony, Robyn referred to the need to lower the risk to third-party financers of both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for using advanced technology. Under the existing process, the private sector has an incentive to minimize risk, resulting in their reliance on older, well-proven technology. DOD, however, needs to take advantage of newer, less-proven technology which can dramatically cut energy demand or lower the cost of generating renewable energy.

“We are exploring contractual mechanisms that would allow the department to reduce the risk to, or share the risk with, the third party,” according to her testimony.

To view a webcast of the hearing or to download the witnesses’ written testimony, visit the committee website. For further coverage, read the American Forces Press Service story.

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