The Policy Mullet: Good Intentions in Front, Bad Policy in Back

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Conference Paper

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To achieve important policy goals like decarbonization, energy efficiency, and social justice, it is important to translate high-level policy into operational practice. Establishing sustainable purchasing goals has been one important part of this translation. However, not all sustainable purchasing policies are equally effective for organizations. In this study, we analyze sustainable purchasing policies collected from 30 public-sector organizations. We discuss a theoretical framework of optimal policy language and use that framework to evaluate the policies we collected.  
We believe that an ideal sustainable purchasing policy can increase the likelihood of implementation success by providing more product-specific guidance, giving authority to procurement staff, setting performance targets, and requiring reporting to account for progress. In our review of public sector sustainable purchasing policies, we found that policy language is less than ideal when measured against the framework. Based on our findings, we highlight the best practice language organizations can use in their sustainable purchasing policies to meet sustainability goals. While there is more work needed to inform best practices with sustainable purchasing policies, we recommend that organizations utilize existing frameworks when developing a sustainable purchasing policy to encourage better implementation. 


ACEEE Summer Study

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