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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.

Setting Strategic Direction and Priorities

The need for strategic planning and measurement processes has risen as agencies grapple with complex, crossmedia environmental challenges not easily addressed through conventional regulatory programs. Innovative practices are enabling agencies to improve decision-making, focus resources on priority needs, measure progress, communicate results, and continually improve environmental management efforts.

photo of business people in a meetingPlanning

Agencies are increasingly recognizing the importance of strategic planning to enhance the productivity of public resources. Improved planning processes are helping agencies: 1) target resources where they are needed most and identify activities for disinvestment; 2) establish timelines to address priority problems in a practical manner; and 3) communicate desired outcomes and measures to internal and external stakeholders.

Planning can be applied at various levels, targeting agency-wide, sector-focused, or media-specific activities. Efforts to weave strategic planning into the organizational fabric of agencies are linking strategic direction with budgeting, program execution, and performance measurement. Adopting an ongoing management process for aligning organizational activities with strategic priorities significantly increases the productivity and impact of planning. Through environmental agreements, such as Performance Partnership Agreements, states and EPA are working to align planning and priority setting activities to leverage broader impacts and to clarify roles and accountability. Agency managers can use innovative practices to bring planning to life, identifying strategic priorities and aligning programs, initiatives, and resources to achieve results.

Compliance Team Planning Process—Indiana
Incorporates agency-wide, holistic compliance and enforcement planning into the Performance Partnership Agreement through the creation of a team of senior managers representing several media divisions and regions. (http://www.in.gov/idem/5476.htmexit EPA)
Planning Partnerships—Utah
Coordinates planning efforts between the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. EPA Region 8 throughout the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS) and with 12 local health departments to develop an Environmental Service Delivery Plan. (http://www.deq.utah.gov/About_DEQ/Planning/ESDP/index.htm exit EPA)
Environmental Problem Solving—Florida
Systematically addresses recurring environmental problems that are not easily addressed by conventional efforts using a nomination, analysis, and measurement process to develop action plans. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/ exit EPA)
STARS Economics and Decision Sciences Research Grants Program—U.S. EPA
Supports research by external social scientists that environmental decision-makers can use in real-world situations. (http://epa.gov/ncer/science/economics/)

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photo of open portfolioMeasurement and Indicators

Public agencies are improving performance measurement, enabling better informed priority setting and decision-making. Significant progress is being made in developing indicators and performance measures that shed light on: 1) environmental quality outcomes at various geographic levels (e.g., watershed, state, regional, national); 2) environmental performance of specific sources and sectors; and 3) the implementation status and effectiveness of agency environmental improvement programs. Progress is also being made in developing innovative practices and tools for managing, sharing, and communicating performance measures and indicators. Practices in this area help agency managers better assess environmental quality and performance outcomes, making it possible to better target programmatic and policy interventions and to evaluate their effectiveness.

Environmental Indicators—U.S. EPA
Provides a framework for states and U.S. EPA regions to measure and report geographically scalable information on environmental conditions and trends to help construct a robust decision support framework and the reporting of environmental progress in a comprehensive manner to the public. (http://www.epa.gov/indicators/)
King County Measuring for Results—Washington
Publishes an annual report to share environmental goals, progress, and results with the public; indicators focus on measurement of agency program outcomes. (http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/data-and-trends/indicators-and-performance.aspx exit EPA)
Geographic Information System Screening Tool—U.S. EPA Region 6
Uses GIS coverages and a decision structure to assess direct and cumulative land impacts from a collection of facilities, such as animal feed lots, and to compare mitigation opportunities or permitting challenges. (http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6en/gis/)
Measures Tracking and Reporting System—New Hampshire
Uses a database to regularly track and report environmental measures and link those measures to goals, priorities, program activities, and budgets to enable improved results-based management. (http://www.des.state.nh.us/ exit EPA)
Measuring Results with Partners—U.S. EPA Region 5
Region 5 states and EPA partnered to develop shared environmental goals, targets, and indicators to enhance water quality outcomes and inform joint planning activities. (http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/goals.htm)

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