have been visiting each EPA office talking about the new performance management system. After a presentation in Kansas City, one employee asked, “This is great for those of us here, but how do you plan to let everyone in the agency know about this?” Well, that is a good question. In fact, there should be a way to let everyone know what we are doing to improve EPA's performance.
For starters, this blog should help do that. But also, for the first time, EPA now provides our Quarterly Management Report (QMR) to the public. That is important because while EPA issues many performance reports we now have one that can be used on a regular basis, by anyone, to see how we are doing and discover new ways of doing things better.
For example, EPA's enforcement office routinely sends requests to take legal action against polluters to the Department of Justice for approval. By tracking how many referrals we send to Justice in the QMR, we found that we typically send about seven times as many referrals to the Department of Justice in the fourth quarter of the year as in the first quarter. And most of these are in September. This seems to largely happen out of habit. Like many people, our lawyers wait to finish off work at the end of the year. However, this habit causes temporary backlogs at Justice late in the year. EPA is now working to “level” the workload throughout the year, and we expect it to result in faster turnaround times. Changing this one work practice means we can take faster action to protect human health and the environment.
Measures for reporting don't mean much. Measures for managing are vital. The QMR lets us use measures to manage.