The pilot governance model – including the roles of EPA and its contractor team and the criteria, charge and scope for panel and Governance Committee membership – is summarized below. Pilot participants will have an opportunity to review and accept all governance documents, which will include a decision-making process and other provisions that ensure both fair and balanced participation across stakeholder categories and any limitations that may be appropriate (e.g., while the Standards and Ecolabel Community can provide critical substantive input throughout the pilot, some category participants might be required to abstain from decision-making on conformity assessment results to avoid a conflict of interest).
As the lead agency responsible for the guidelines and the pilot, EPA will coordinate the federal government’s role in the pilot – including managing any public notice and comments, and coordinating with other federal agencies and policy offices. EPA has contracted and therefore oversees the RESOLVE team’s performance in facilitating and administering the pilot. However, EPA will not direct the work of the panels, and instead expects the RESOLVE team’s independent procedural and subject-matter expertise will yield outcomes that fully capture the expert insights of pilot participants. To learn more about the EPA staff involved, please visit our About Us page. EPA will however ultimately determine the appropriate use of all outcomes associated with the pilot, including if/how such outcomes should be made public, and/or recommended for further use in federal environmentally preferable purchasing.
RESOLVE is the primary contractor – joined by a team that includes IEc and SEM Advisors – tasked by EPA to facilitate and administer the pilot. The RESOLVE Team’s primary roles include working with EPA to further design the pilot and engage participants, and then facilitating the work of the panels and Governance Committee (process management, guiding multi-stakeholder dialogue, and providing research and technical support), contracting and overseeing one or more qualified independent assessment entities (as recommended by the Governance Committee), and drafting the panel and overall pilot reports that will reflect associated recommendations to EPA. In these roles, the RESOLVE team has some expert discretion in guiding EPA and pilot participants towards the pilot’s target objectives, but will not otherwise seek to independently influence the panel outcomes or associated federal policy. IEc will be serving as the technical lead with a focus on: developing materials to support the Product Category Panels (e.g. background research that defines each product category, a comprehensive list of relevant standards and ecolabels, generic checklists and evaluation criteria); conducting data collection with participating standards and ecolabel programs; and compiling IAE reports. SEM Advisors will provide RESOLVE with various strategic and project management support as relates to the pilot – an extension of prior support for the multi-stakeholder comment on potential pilot design that RESOLVE submitted to EPA – while also facilitating discussion of broader issues related to private sector sustainability standards and ecolabels including as relates to the potential for the pilot to lay the foundation for ongoing work that provides additional market clarity.
Governance Committee (GC)
The primary roles of the Governance Committee (GC) are to: coordinate, guide, and advise the panels; ensure consistency among the panels where appropriate; make recommendations on key pilot phases; add insight and perspective on the pilot’s value, scalability, and other questions on which EPA is seeking input through an overarching Final Pilot Report. As such, the GC will play a key role supporting the pilot’s immediate goals, as well as the potential opportunity to build momentum and leadership beyond the pilot. As part of an ongoing self-sustaining effort, the panels may therefore continue beyond the initial pilot period. GC membership may also involve:
- Helping to envision and potentially engage in a long-term effort to expand application of the guidelines (where deemed valuable) and maintain up-to-date assessments as part of a self-sustaining program.
- Serving as a liaison and helping the pilot effectively reach, and positively impact, key audiences within the pilot’s identified Stakeholder Groups.
The GC will include four representatives from the panels (one from each of the four panels), elected by the panels, as well as additional individuals who are not Panel members, but instead can focus on the pilot’s broader objectives while adding balance and credibility to the GC. The list of GC participants is available here.
In addition to the criteria pertaining to panel members, the criteria for GC membership include:
- Familiarity and experience with several ecolabels and sustainability standards – content, approach, standard development processes, verification processes, etc.
- Ability to contribute to the overall goals of the pilot
- Ability to devote the necessary time to the GC (in addition to time required for panel membership) and willingness to help synthesize and represent panel outcomes
The primary role of each of the three Product Category Panels is to work collaboratively with other Panel members to develop product-category-specific criteria for evaluating standards and ecolabels (based on the guidelines), consider related issues such as scoring and weighting, and then review conformity assessment results before drafting Panel recommendations. In contrast, the primary role of a fourth services sector Panel is to help identify key issues and then make preliminary recommendations on the potential future application of the guidelines. All four panels are also expected to receive input from and relay their insights to the Governance Committee, both with respect to the product-category specific application of the guidelines and broader questions about the pilot’s value and potential scalability.
Each of the Product Category Panels and the Service Sector Panel will include a set experts, with balanced participation from the following stakeholder groups: Producers, Users, Environmental and Public Health/Regulatory, and the Standards and Ecolabel Community. The criteria for panel membership include:
- Knowledge of the environmental and/or human health impacts of the particular product category
- Experience working with diverse stakeholders towards consensus
- Familiarity with the draft guidelines and federal sustainable acquisition mandates
- Familiarity with standards development and conformity assessment approaches
- Ability to devote the necessary time to the panel
All applicants will be asked to disclose any potential conflict of interest; a conflict of interest will not preclude their participation, but transparency is essential.