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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Critique of The Institute of Museum and Library Services


From: Julie Malone

Critique of The Institute of Museum and Library Services SSPF
(Submitted as Midterm Examination Paper for University of Denver
graduate seminar 4232 "Sustainability: Policy and Practice," Arthur H.
Purcell, Instructor).

Date: November 24, 2010

Subject: The Institute of Museum and Library Services Sustainability Plan

This is in response to a request from the Executive Office regarding comments on The Institute of Museum and Library Services Sustainability Plan.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums with a mission to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. The IMLS is strongly committed to supporting and complying with the Federal Executive Order 13514 (White House 2009), which mandates agencies to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, along with meeting a number of energy, water, and waste reduction targets for sustainability. As required in the executive order, the agency director has appointed the Chief Information Officer, a member of the senior executive team, to serve as Senior Sustainability Officer (SSO). With that said the IMLS has numerous current and planned initiatives that strongly support sustainability.

The IMLS have set realistic goals and objectives that can be accomplished:

  • Goal 1 Convert to environmentally-green office space

The first goal of greenhouse gas reduction is to develop and maintain an agency comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory, high-performance sustainable design / green buildings, regional and local planning, and water use efficiency and management. The agency manages no fleets nor owns any buildings, but instead leases private office space through a General Service Administration (GSA) long-term lease agreement. IMLS has a staff of approximately 70 FTE’s and 8 contractors, in which all employees and contractors occupy a single floor of leased space and have no field offices. Two years prior to the end of the current lease for office space (2013), the IMLS will initiate a project to find leased space in an Environmentally Green building that will need to meet the minimum requirements of the Executive Order.

The Federal Executive Order 13514 requires a 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020. IMLS needs to provide information of what the agency plans to do about water use efficiency and management. In comparison, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) uses water-saving devices for potable water sources in their building. ACHP also mentioned having renewable electricity goals as it will take steps to reduce its consumption of non-renewable energy. IMLS needs to follow in ACHP’s steps and push their goals of reducing or converting non-renewable energy to a more efficient type of energy. The Federal Executive Order 13514 is implementing a net-zero-energy building requirement by 2030.

  • Goal 2 Telework, reduce commuting, increase webcasting

For the second goal of greenhouse gas reduction, IMLS will encourage the increasing use of telework by having the Human Resources Director take lead in addressing the existing telework policy to revise it to provide greater flexibility for managers and staff, and review the technology tools used to support remote access.

Note: Nearly 25% of the agency staff telework regularly and will be provided a laptop in lieu of desktop systems and be required to use a virtual private network (VPN) that allows secure remote access from any internet access point. This exchange will be scheduled during the desktop refreshment at the end of FY10 or beginning of FY11.

The IMLS will continue to promote the use of alternative modes of transportation for its commuters other than those that produce greenhouse gases. The agency plans to maintain their current usage level for public transportation, which is at 87% of staff. This percentage is a little lower than the ACHP at 93%, but still a positive move toward helping with greenhouse reduction. This percentage may be lower due to the fact that IMLS encourages employees to telework instead of commuting to work.

IMLS can help reduce greenhouse gases from flying by using webcasting extensively when engaging constituents around the country and reducing staff travel requirements.

The end goal will be to use telework effectively one day per week for at least 50% of all staff over the next three years. This will help the teleworkers balance quality of life and work life, not to mention human factors of less stress and improved personal health. While not measured by the agency, by using increased telework greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced. By having teleworkers it will reduce energy, water and disposable waste that were being wasted by occupied leased office space. While the goal of 50% of all staff teleworking at least one day per week is laudable, to better meet the outlines of Goal 2 and Goal 3 greenhouse gas reductions, this could realistically be increased substantially; potential telework penetration in the IMLS could be 75%-80% of employees’ teleworking up to five days per week without needing to occupy office space through the reduction and/or elimination of paper files, increased use of webcasting, and the use of SmartPhone technologies.

The above goals alone will help the federal target mandate of reducing greenhouse gases (from energy use and other sources) to meet its target of 28% and indirectly by another 13% by 2020, including attributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

IMLS’s CIO office is working with the federal IT community on the Data Center Consolidation Plan and is planning to consolidate the closet data center via interagency agreement or with a private partner over the next two years.

  • Goal 3 Reduce printing and emailing large files

The third goal of greenhouse gas reduction, reduce printing and emailing of large files, will be lead by the Office of the Chief Information.

The new implemented method will be to develop a centralized printing station for groups of 4-5 employees; develop centralized location for posting agency documents and train staff on using a central shared location; set limit for size of internal email attachments, as appropriate.

A printer consolidation plan will be established over the next two years as the agency moves forward with plans to reduce the employee to printer ratio. The current ratio (staff to printer) of standalone printers is 1.1. The goal will be to improve this ratio to 5 to 1 over the next two years. Consolidating printers will help save funds on materials and services and as an expense on the federal budget.

Along with decreased printer use, ACHP increased use of uncoated printing and writing paper containing at least 30% postconsumer fiber (in accordance to the required Executive Order) and reduced in-house printing paper use by changing default settings on distributed printers and copiers to double-sided printing. I would recommend IMLS to add switching paper products and using double-sided printing to save on paper costs to their sustainability goals.

The IMLS Agency Sustainability Plan specifies “Reduce Printing/Emailing of Large Files” under Section 2, Goal 2, Goal B. While the goal mentioned of creating and training employees in the use of a centralized repository for electronic documents is laudable and to be encouraged, it is uncertain how this will reduce or eliminate excess printing of said documents. While emailing large document attachments uses up considerable server storage space and can be seen as a way to prevent having to add additional storage (and hence increase the environmental impact of the electricity consumption as well as the manufacturing, shipping and replacement of said storage), it does not directly address how a centralized storage and retrieval system will prevent employees from printing multiple copies of the same documents, which is the idea behind Sec. 2(e)(iv) of the Executive Order. It is recommended that the IMLS Plan be modified to provide more detail on how policies will be implemented to reduce printing of documents unnecessarily, whether through emailed attachments or a centralized repository.

  • Goal 4 Recycling

The Federal Executive Order 13514 requires 50% recycling and waste diversion by 2015. IMLS has a recycling program in place in coordination with building management and has recycling bins stationed throughout the office space. The IMLS will continue to promote its current recycling program. This is an excellent program that most agencies use including ACHP.

Steps to implement this plan will include the following:

  • Training on the sustainability plan will be provided for all staff during the next year, and the approved plan will be posted on the agency website.
  • The agency director has appointed the Chief Information Officer, a member of the senior leadership team, as the Senior Sustainability Officer (SSO) who will be responsible for overall management of the plan and the related efforts.
  • The executive leadership team will be briefed throughout the year by the agency’s SSO on progress, issues, and other factors affecting the plan. The SSO and other members of the executive leadership team will have a statement incorporated into their performance plans identifying their roles in supporting agency sustainability goals.

The executive leadership team will be responsible for reviewing, prioritizing, and determining which agency policies will need updating to reflect initiatives related to sustainability.

  • The executive leadership team will be responsible for ensuring that all goals of this plan are integrated into agency projects and plans as appropriate.
  • The executive leadership team will be responsible for ensuring that all budgetary needs related to this plan are integrated into agency budget submissions.
  • Agency sustainability goals with associated metrics will be updated every six months to measure against past performance and planned goals.

In order to implement the goals of the sustainability plan, The IMLS executive leadership team will own the responsibility for effective implementation of EO 13514. The team will consist of the agency Director, the Deputy Director for Library Programs, the Deputy Director for Museum Programs and Strategic Partnerships, the Deputy Director for the Office of Policy, Planning, Research and Communications, the Chief of Staff, the General Counsel, the Chief Financial Officer, the Director of Human Resource, and the Chief Information Officer.

When it comes to budgeting there are always holes that need to be filled or adjusted. For example, as I mentioned earlier, there will be an expense for laptops and VPN’s for the teleworkers in the end of FY10 or the beginning FY11; costs will depend on individual needs and responsibilities, such as a particular software license or upgrade. Time will be the judge on any additional expenditure in the budget.

As for building usage, IMLS should show a decrease in water usage and electricity. I believe the IMLS sustainability plan has potential of accomplishing its requirements as long as executive leadership team meet regularly, keep focused on the plan, and educate employees accordingly. It is my opinion that IMLS can mesh with other agencies quite well considering all of the agencies are working toward the same sustainability goal.

While comparing IMLS to ACHP, I noticed that both agencies have an overall similarity of sustainability plans. It was mentioned that the GSA is focusing on an overall “Zero Environmental Impact” goal. IMLS can stride to accomplish this goal but it will take time for the agency to comply.


The White House. 2010. Advisory council on historic preservation. http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/sustainability/
October 16, 2010).

The White House. 2010. Federal leadership in environmental, energy and economic performance - executive order 13514. http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/sustainability (accessed November 16, 2010).

The White House. 2010. Institute of museum and library services agency Sustainability Plan. http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/
October 16, 2010).

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