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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Environmental Innovation Portfolio

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

Improving Agency Service Delivery

Pressures grow each year to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of environmental agency service delivery. Innovative practices enable agencies to improve their core functions, minimizing time and resource requirements while maintaining or improving environmental outcomes. These efforts are resulting in better service to partners and customers, while freeing resources to address additional environmental priorities.

Inspections and Enforcement

Environmental agencies are improving the efficiency and effectiveness of compliance assurance activities. Innovative practices focus on: 1) tailoring compliance oversight approaches to risk-based priorities; 2) changing the way inspections are carried out; and 3) developing alternatives to inspections. Moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach, agencies are matching facility or sector compliance rate and risk profiles with the appropriate level of inspection, reporting and monitoring, and compliance assistance. Multimedia facility inspections are reducing the time and cost of onsite inspections. Agencies are also reducing the inspection resources devoted to high-performing facilities by allowing facility self-auditing and self-reporting as an alternative to conventional inspections. Agency managers can use innovative practices to better target and enhance the effectiveness of compliance assurance resources.

Self-Auditing and Reporting-Rhode Island
Allows certain high-performing industrial facilities to pursue self-auditing and self-reporting to reduce the frequency of inspections undertaken by the Narragansett Bay Commission. (http://www.epa.gov/projectxl/nbc/index.htm)
Sector-Focused Compliance Assistance-U.S.EPA
Through a mixture of compliance assistance and compliance incentives, EPA worked with the largest trade association for industrial bakers to reduce or eliminate leaks of ozone-depleting substances used in refrigeration equipment. (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/bakery/)
Regulatory Risk Continuum-Oklahoma
Analyzes a facility or sector compliance rate and risk profile to focus resources on priority areas and to determine appropriate levels of inspection, reporting and monitoring, and compliance assistance. (http://www.deq.state.ok.us/ exit EPA)
Multi-Media Inspections-California
Moves away from the single agency, single media inspection model by implementing a holistic, facility based, multi-media inspection. (http://www.calepa.ca.gov/ exit EPA)

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photo of open portfolioPermitting

Agencies are applying business management tools to reduce permit lead times, errors, and program costs. Environmental permitting programs are sometimes the focus of stakeholder frustration due to permitting backlogs, long lead times, costs, and uncertainty. State and local permitting authorities are streamlining air, water, and waste permitting activities in creative ways. Efforts center on two areas: 1) improving internal agency permitting processes; and 2) shifting away from media-specific permitting for individual facilities. Some agencies are applying business improvement techniques such as Six Sigma and lean manufacturing to analyze and drive improvement in their permitting processes. Agency managers can apply innovative permitting and process improvement practices to streamline permitting programs and reduce permitting backlogs and turnaround times.

Lean Air Permitting Process-Iowa
Uses "lean" rapid improvement methods developed in the manufacturing sector to systematically identify and eliminate unneeded steps and redundant activities in the permitting process, while fostering continuous improvement and employee involvement. (http://www.iowadnr.com/air/prof/kaizen/kaizen.html exit EPA)
Environmental Results Program-Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida
Implements a multimedia, sector-based regulatory approach, targeting sectors with large numbers of small sources, as an alternative to facility-specific state permits with industry-wide environmental performance standards and annual self-certifications of compliance. (http://www.mass.gov/dep/service/envrespr.htm exit EPA, http://www.state.ri.us/dem/programs/benviron/assist/index.htm exit EPAhttp://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/hazardous/pages/AutomotiveCompliance.htmExit EPA Disclaimer, http://www.epa.gov/permits/erp/index.htm)
Online permitting for Joint Aquatic Resource Permits (JARPA)-Washington
Aids in the submittal and review of Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Applications (JARPAs), by providing online forms, submittal, and review of applications. (http://www.epermitting.wa.gov/ exit EPA)

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Data Utilization and Information Management

New information management systems are allowing States and EPA to improve environmental program management and decision-making. Advances in information management are enabling agencies to: 1) access and analyze current and historical data; 2) share and aggregate data across jurisdictions; 3) present data in formats that support improved decision-making; 4) collect data electronically in a streamlined manner; and 5) use information technology to provide new and better services. For example, implementation of electronic information exchange mechanisms between facilities and agencies improves data quality and reduces administrative burden. Many states are enhancing their information technology systems and are connecting to the state-EPA Exchange Network, improving information flows and data sharing. In addition, innovative geographic information integration is empowering planning processes around the country. Agency managers can use innovative information management practices to greatly enhance the value of information that is currently collected-to better inform decision-making, clarify external communications, and reduce the burden of data collection and management.

Electronic Discharge Monitoring Reports-Michigan
Automates discharge monitoring reports for NPDES facilities to complete, sign, submit, edit, and re-submit "eDMR" forms online. (https://secure1.state.mi.us/e2rs exit EPA)
Smart Growth INDEX-states and U.S.EPA
Simulates alternative land use and transportation scenarios using GIS sketch models to incorporate smart growth principles into planning processes. (http://www.epa.gov/dced/pdf/Final_screen.pdf)
National Environmental Information Exchange Network-U.S. EPA
Enables interoperability between information systems using Internet technologies across multiple data systems creating a national multi-media environmental information network. (http://www.exchangenetwork.net/ exit EPA)

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photo of young people planting treePublic Education, Outreach, and Engagement

Numerous states are pioneering collaborative stakeholder involvement processes to improve the quality and acceptability of environmental improvement initiative outcomes. Environmental agencies are building trust and understanding-which enables behavior change-among stakeholder groups through communication, involvement, and responsiveness. Innovative practices are: 1) bringing together diverse stakeholders in creative forums to enhance communication around important environmental challenges and to solicit input and support on agency initiatives; and 2) establishing effective channels for engaging with public inquiries, comments, and concerns. Agency managers can enhance the durability of agency decisions and initiatives through effective public engagement, and can strengthen public support through responsiveness to questions and concerns.

Pollution Complaint Response-Indiana
Coordinates an agency-wide, multimedia response to citizen inquiries and complaints using Web-based information, enabling the agency to reduce costs and increase public trust. (http://www.in.gov/idem/5274.htm exit EPA)
Ford Good Neighbor Dialogue-Illinois
Brings together stakeholders, academics, and agency representatives in a collaborative process to periodically discuss a large manufacturing facility's environmental management and performance. (http://www.delta-institute.org/ exit EPA)
Community Environmental Awareness Project-Michigan
Develops an approach to improve the way environmental information is presented and made available to the public; the goal of the CEAP is to improve the public's access to and understanding of how major industries are performing under environmental laws and regulations. (http://www.deq.state.mi.us/ceap exit EPA)

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