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Common Measures Project

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Modern airline pilots don't make decisions without consulting their instruments. Modern environmental managers shouldn't either. Better performance measurement is critical for targeting the highest priority environmental problems with appropriate resources and strategies.

Nowhere is measurement more challenging than with cost-effectively measuring the performance of large groups of regulated facilities. In 2005, a group of 10 states, led by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Exit EPA Disclaimer set out to tackle this problem together with the EPA-funded Common Measures Project. Completed in summer 2009, the project has demonstrated that collaborative approaches can provide managers with valuable information that helps them determine how well facilities are performing and whether new strategies may be warranted.

Key outcomes of the project include the following:

  • Common Indicators. The 10 project states agreed upon core performance measures, or indicators, for two regulated groups: (1) small quantity generators (SQGs) of hazardous waste and (2) auto body shops. The set of measures can be used to evaluate both regulatory and beyond-compliance performance. A common set of indicators is essential for comparing the environmental performance of similar groups of facilities in different states.

  • Common Statistical Measurement. Eight of the ten states used random site visits to collect performance data on SQGs. These random samples enabled each state to understand the performance of its own facilities, while also comparing performance to that of other states.

  • Identification of Promising Policies. Preliminary analysis of differences in performance among states identified agency interventions that may be correlated with better group performance, and merit further investigation.

  • Ongoing Implementation and Adaptation. Two of the project participants, New York and Washington State, have utilized the common auto body indicators in measurement efforts related to the implementation of Environmental Results Programs (ERPs). Other measurement projects for the auto body sector, including the Multi-State Auto Body ERP in EPA Region 5, are utilizing the common measures indicators to some degree as well.

The final project report can serve as a template for future "common measures" efforts in other sectors and regulatory areas. The report, as well as detailed background information, can be found at the state-developed Common Measures Project website Exit EPA Disclaimer . The website is hosted by the Northeastern Waste Management Officials Association (NEWMOA), Exit EPA Disclaimer which facilitated state efforts on the project. Additional information is available at the project homepage on the website of EPA's State Innovation Grants program, which funded the Common Measures Project.

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