GOVERNMENT PURCHASING PROJECT
PO Box 19367 Washington, DC 20036
(202) 387-8030 (fax) 234-5176 http://www.gpp.org
December 10, 1997
Dear Administrator Barram:
I am writing to you regarding a matter of great concern. As you know, the White House Copier Paper Summit was held yesterday. I was disappointed with the federal government's overall copier paper compliance of 39 percent, but that was not even the most disturbing news that came out of the conference.
A member of your staff, Frank Pugliese, Commissioner of the Federal Supply Service, spoke briefly about GSA's efforts with regard to the Buy Recycled Executive Order (E.O.12873), and the difficulties the agency has had in improving its compliance and the compliance of the federal government as a whole. He also indicated that the price preference offered by GSA for recycled paper that complied with the executive order would be terminated in January. While Mr. Pugliese had ample information on what means had not been successful, he offered few ways in which compliance could be improved. He indicated that advertising compliant paper, providing a pamphlet of environmentally preferable products, even making recycled paper cheaper, had not worked as well as he thought is should. But Mr. Pugliese went on to say that GSA was canceling the price preference for recycled paper and would otherwise continue what it had been doing, although it was admittedly less successful.
During the question and answer period I thought it important to consider alternative approaches to address the gross non-compliance with President Clinton's order. I asked Mr. Pugliese if making GSA a sole source provider for the procurement items specified under the executive order would be a feasible way for GSA to conduct business and also improve compliance with the order. He responded that he did not like this sole source approach and stated that this was not a contest to see who could be more "macho" about federal procurement. I found this comment rather bizarre. I replied that I was not sure what this discussion had to do with being "macho," but that I believed it was important to improve the government's compliance with the order's legal requirements which were being violated. I stressed that after four years the order was not being complied with by the vast majority of federal agencies. In reply he said: "Big deal." Mr. Pugliese went on to indicate that it was "just" an executive order, that it was not as binding as a law passed by Congress, and that terrible compliance with executive orders was the norm.
Mr. Pugliese's comments indicate that he feels the executive order is not legally binding. It is an outrage and clear insubordination for a high ranking GSA official to believe that executive orders issued by President Clinton can be ignored. Mr. Pugliese's comments shocked many attendees at the conference, myself included, and it seems that his views are completely at odds with the requirements of his job. GSA must play a key role in assisting the federal government's compliance with Executive Order 12873 and several other executive orders. Indeed, Mr. Pugliese's apparent opinion that the executive order does not have to be complied with may have contributed both to GSA's and the federal government's low compliance rates.
Considering Mr. Pugliese's opinion on the non-binding nature of executive orders, I would like to know how Mr. Pugliese can possibly perform his job which necessarily requires upholding the law, including executive orders. I look forward to your reply.
/s/Todd J. Paglia
cc:President William J. Clinton