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Lean Government

Basic Information

Lean Government Fact Sheet
Lean Government fact sheet

(Download PDF, 28 pp, 392K, About PDF)

Administrative Process Wastes
  • Backlog of Work
  • Errors in Documents
  • Rework
  • Doing Work Not Requested
  • Unnecessary Process Steps
  • Waiting
  • Unnecessary Motion
  • Transport of Documents

Lean and Six Sigma process improvement approaches were developed originally for use in the private sector to target manufacturing processes, but there has been steady progress towards adapting these approaches for use on service and administrative processes. Public sector interest in Lean and Six Sigma is increasing rapidly, fueled by strong improvement results. Government organizations ranging from the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the U.S. Mint, to all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are using Lean and/or Six Sigma to improve their administrative processes. Interest among federal and state environmental agencies in these methods is growing rapidly. About 30 state environmental agencies, as well as multiple EPA offices and programs, have conducted at least one Lean process improvement event and have achieved impressive results across their programs and processes.

Lean and Six Sigma efforts identify and eliminate unnecessary and non-valued added process steps and activities that have built up over time. In non-manufacturing settings, waste (non-value added activity, see box) is most prevalent in the information flows associated with processes. Lean and Six Sigma efforts are not just about fixing broken processes. Environmental agencies have found that these methods enable them to understand how their processes are working on the ground and to make adjustments that optimize desired outcomes. By getting routine activities and mechanisms of a process to function smoothly and consistently, staff time can be freed to focus on higher value activities that are more directly linked to environmental protection.

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