Lean Government Initiatives at State Environmental Agencies
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Interest in Lean and Six Sigma among government agencies continues to grow. Since 2003, many State agencies have experienced significant efficiency gains through implementing Lean and Six Sigma methods. Approximately 30 States have completed Lean events as of September 2010, and approximately nine States are interested in Lean (see map). In addition, EPA and States have collaborated on several events.
State Lean Case Studies:
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection held a Kaizen event in August 2009 that reduced the processing time for Submerged Lands "Dredge and Fill" construction permits.
- The State of Iowa achieved significant efficiency gains through the completion of more than 65 Lean events which focused on a variety of permitting and management processes. Iowa DNR reduced the average time to issue standard air quality construction permits from 62 days to 6 days, and eliminated 70 percent of the process steps (from 23 to 7 steps).
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency improved permitting timeliness by issuing 75 percent of NPDES permits within 180 days (from a historical baseline of 9 percent), and issued 75 percent of air construction permits within 150 days (from a historical baseline of 33 percent). MPCA has used Six Sigma methodologies to improve at least 21 agency processes.
- South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control completed a Value Stream Mapping event in September 2009 to streamline the construction stormwater permitting process and improve the completeness and accuracy of submittals.
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources completed a Kaizen event for their waste water permit program which brought about significant reductions in the number of steps and delays within the permitting process.
Other State Lean Activity:
- California Department of Toxic Substances Control held Kaizen events in August and October 2007.
- Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has implemented Lean in 16 programs, with benefits that include the Coastal Permit Program's reduction of its review period from 500 days to less than 120 days.
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control lowered a backlog of air construction permits from 199 to 25, while reducing the average permit processing time to less than 76 days. (State Summary)
- Idaho Department of Environmental Quality achieved a significant reduction in process steps and delays within their air permitting program and is planning a Kaizen event for their wastewater enforcement program in mid 2007.
- Illinois Environmental Protection Agency held a Kaizen event for minor source air construction permits in June 2007.
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management held a Kaizen event for significant source modifications to their air permitting program in early October 2007.
- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a new Lean Government program with their current activities.
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality decreased the time needed to process major air construction permits from 422 days to 98 days. Initial application administrative completeness rose from 82 to 95 percent. (State Summary)
- Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality reduced the review time for ethanol plant air construction permits by 50 percent and decreased the air construction permitting backlog by 55 percent. (State Summary)
- Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation conducted a Value Stream Mapping exercise in August 2007 that focused on the Aquatic Resource Alteration Permits (ARAP) program.
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality completed permit program reviews on their air program, hazardous waste program, solid waste program, Virginia Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems, wetland protection program, and identified numerous opportunities for process improvements.
- Washington Department of Ecology conducted two Lean events focusing on the financial assistance program within the water quality program and the pollution prevention planning process, both in June 2007.
- Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality held a Kaizen event for New Source Review oil and gas permits in June 2007. (State Summary (PDF) )
- Region 7 and Four States (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) teamed up with the EPA to hold a Lean event for the Clean Air Act Implementation Plan process in January 2010. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lean Government: Region 7 and Four States – Clean Air Act Implementation Plan (SIP) Kaizen Event Case Study. July 2010. Fact Sheet (PDF) (5 pp, 1.54MB)
- Region 7 and Four States (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) teamed up with the EPA to hold a Lean event for the wastewater permitting review and enforcement process in August 2008. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lean Government: Region 7 and 4 States—National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) - Kaizen Event Case Study. August 2009. Fact Sheet (PDF) (3 pp, 430K)
- Region 7 and Four States (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) teamed up with the EPA to hold a Lean event for water quality standards in June 2007. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lean Government: Region 7 and 4 States—Water Quality Standards Review Process - Kaizen Event Case Study. August 2009. Fact Sheet (PDF) (3 pp, 482K)
For More Information:
- To learn more about how to get started with Lean and Six Sigma process improvements, see Working Smart for Environmental Protection (PDF) (55 pp, 1.22MB) and the Lean in Government Starter Kit.
- For more information on State Lean activities, see the Inventory of State Lean Activities (PDF), (25 pp, 113K) also found on the ECOS website.