On February 21, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum outlining specific efforts executive agency and department heads must undertake to promote the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”)’s BioPreferred federal procurement program.  The BioPreferred Program is intended to promote federal procurement of “biobased products” (i.e., commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials, or forestry materials).  Currently, the USDA has designated 64 categories of biobased products, representing approximately 9,000 individual products, as eligible for preferred federal procurement.  We discussed the labeling requirements of the UDSA’s voluntary product certification and labeling program, which is administered in conjunction with the BioPreferred Program, here.

The Presidential Memorandum directs agencies and department heads to carry out a number of steps to foster the expansion of the BioPreferred Program.  In addition to requiring increased research, education and outreach on biobased procurement, the Memorandum also requires changes to certain procurement mechanisms and increased accountability for federal agencies in their procurement of biobased products.  Specifically, the Memorandum requires, among other things: 

  • Agencies to include biobased products in their Affirmative Procurement Programs, Preferable Purchasing Programs, and as part of their procurement review and monitoring program;
  • The Secretary of Agriculture to increase the number of categories of biobased products designated, and individual products eligible, for preferred purchasing, and also to establish a web-based program through which biobased product manufacturers can request a new product category for designation;
  • Senior Sustainability Officers and Chief Acquisition Officers of each federal agency to conduct random samples of solicitations and awards to ensure biobased considerations are included; and
  • An amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulations requiring federal agencies to report biobased purchasing on an annual basis.

These requirements come in advance of an expected imminent proposed rule from the USDA adding additional categories of biobased products eligible for preferred federal procurement.