Helping Optimize an Executive Order on Climate Change

The Challenge: The Perfect Intersection of Ambitious and Achievable

To do their part in determining the contents of the Order, the heads of each federal agency first had to define and assess the scope of the new EO relative to related EOs issued by previous administrations. EOs 13693 and 13834, from the Obama and Trump Administrations, respectively, differed on the details of how they defined federal sustainability from an operating perspective. Some sustainability areas, such as clean energy, included broader definitions under 13693 than 13834, for example. Others, such as Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, were not included in EO 13834 at all. Given changing circumstances and updated science, President Biden’s EO would have to carve out its own unique definitions, approaches, and frameworks.

The White House needed to arrive at ambitious-yet-feasible targets for federal agencies to meet. EO 14057’s “Primary Operating Goals” would set reduction targets intended to chart the course for agencies to achieve net-zero while allowing them the critical flexibility to determine exactly how they got there. To craft an Order that was set up to succeed, the Biden Administration needed input from the agencies themselves. It gave each federal agency the opportunity to review draft provisions and provide feedback on proposed initiatives.

In response, federal agencies needed to critically assess mission and operations within an accelerated timeframe and with a commitment to making significant operational and process changes to meet critical climate goals. That would require, among other things, processing and aggregating historic baseline data, measuring sustainability and energy trends, and proposing consumption targets adjusted to meet sustainability goals. Agencies rose to the challenge, in many cases with support from Booz Allen.

The Approach: A Trusted Partner on Climate and Mission

To assess new requirements from the standpoint of how they will affect mission, agency leaders must answer and act on questions like, how will environmental, safety, economic and social considerations integrate into daily operations? And, more importantly, what can realistically be accomplished without negatively impacting mission outcomes and services?

Due to our status as a trusted partner across government, our clients asked us to review the draft EO to help them evaluate the proposed language along those lines, determine if there were areas that still needed to be better defined and elaborated, and delineate how the new policy and its mandates differed from relevant preceding EOs. 

Our review team included mission and policy subject matter experts in climate change, renewable energy, waste management, sustainable procurement, emissions reductions, and electric vehicles.

To determine how the draft language would impact client missions, we reviewed agency processes and datasets and consulted with federal program managers to establish mission-performance baselines, estimate current agency performance, and conduct analyses based on the Administration’s proposed goals. We also compared baseline agency performance against current annual goals and proposed outyear goals to determine if current processes and requirements would be sufficient to meet the new goals or if additional steps would need to be taken.

In areas where the EO provided unclear instructions or may have negatively impacted government missions, Booz Allen helped clients draft questions and suggestions to submit to the Administration addressing their concerns.

Booz Allen’s broad federal footprint and deep well of expertise in climate science and policy positioned us to help clients from different agencies sync up on solutions to similar challenges, and to devise solutions that balanced mission and operations considerations with Administration goals. 

The Solution: Attainable Goals with Real Impact

Over the 10 months leading up to the Order’s release, our team reviewed and commented on the initial draft language, working to ensure that the policy served to best meet the needs of our agency partners and the nation.

For example, our sustainability and energy experts supporting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) analyzed EO 14057 to ensure the agency could achieve sustainability goals in ways that would not jeopardize mission-critical operations. The FAA faces considerable challenges in this regard, as its overarching mission—the safe transportation and protection of infrastructure that the national airspace system relies on—is energy intensive by nature. Thus, we helped our clients at FAA verify whether the EO’s goals were feasible for the agency, what steps it would have to take to meet them, and how these steps could impact national airspace operations. 

Another example includes the support we provided to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE’s mission is to deliver vital public engineering services to strengthen U.S. security, support the economy, and reduce risks from disaster. The agency is responsible for owning or leasing several million gross square feet of federal facilities, and thousands of fleet vehicles. The EO’s net-zero emissions building plan and fleet transition plan were central focuses of our mission and policy analysis for USACE as we worked to help ensure that the organization could meet proposed targets without compromising on mission.

The Future: Zero Carbon Within Reach

With EO 14057 now published, and agencies across the federal government working to bring its ambitious agenda to life, Booz Allen looks forward to continuing to help our clients implement and execute toward a zero-carbon future. 

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