Sector Plan Executive Summary
The EPA Sector Program Plan 2001-2005 takes sector programs a step forward at the Environmental Protection Agency, completing the transition from an experimental phase to the routine use of sector approaches as part of the Agency's mainstream activities.
The Plan describes the ways in which sector approaches now are used by EPA and other government agencies to achieve enhanced environmental protection with less regulatory burden. It also identifies a set of strategic actions to enhance EPA's work with industry sectors.
The Sector Program Plan builds upon lessons from earlier sector pilot programs and ongoing activities, inside and outside the Agency. It considers all types of sector tools and approaches, whether they are voluntary or regulatory, single-medium or multi-media, issue-specific or industry-wide. The Plan addresses the interests and roles of government co-implementers — EPA's state, local, and tribal environmental protection partners — as well as other stakeholder groups.
The Sector Program Plan has a five year time horizon. By implementing the actions in this Plan, EPA can achieve long-term goals for industrial sector environmental protection, captured in the following vision statement:
EPA Leadership Enables Environmental Excellence by U.S. Industries
Over the next five years, better understanding and cooperation among industry, government, and citizen stakeholders will help large numbers of facilities in a variety of industrial sectors make continuous improvement toward environmental excellence. Stakeholder-supported environmental strategies for industry sectors will bring marked reductions in pollution, waste, environmental and human health impacts, and regulatory burden.
The Plan reflects the lessons learned from sector program evaluations, plus the input of many stakeholders within EPA and outside the Agency. Several recurring themes derived from these sources provide a foundation for the actions in this Plan:
- Sector approaches are increasingly common. Successful sector programs are found in EPA's voluntary and regulatory functions and in all program offices and regions. They are used throughout EPA and by state, local, and tribal co-implementers to achieve better environmental protection.
- Effective partnerships between EPA and government co-implementers are crucial for success in implementing sector approaches. Collaboration with stakeholder and community groups further strengthens these programs.
- There is a challenge in reconciling the interests and needs of single-medium versus multi-media sector programs.
- There is an inherent tension between the need for flexibility to allow innovative sector approaches to address shifting priorities, and the need to "lock in" sector program plans for purposes of EPA planning and budgeting.
- Many opportunities exist to enhance the ability of the Agency and government co-implementers to plan and implement sector programs.
The Plan identifies six general opportunities and twelve related actions to enhance the effectiveness of sector activities and fully integrate sector activities into the Agency's work:
Opportunity: Integrate sector approaches into EPA's strategic planning
- Identify sector approaches as strategies to achieve EPA's Strategic Goals
Opportunity: Coordinate planning and implementation of multi-media sector programs
- Designate EPA staff "catalysts" to identify multi-media sector opportunities
- Recognize government co-implementer priorities during sector program planning
- Coordinate selection of priority sectors for cross-Agency attention
- Design and implement multi-media sector programs to address priority environmental problems
- Expand the use of Performance Partnership Agreements and other agreement tools to promote the use of sector approaches by government co-implementers
Opportunity: Gather and share sector information
- Develop a sector programs data source
- Make sector tools and training more available for state and local governments
Opportunity: Enhance performance measurement of sector programs
- Develop a training program and toolbox for performance measurement
- Implement performance measures to assess the environmental results of enforcement and compliance assurance activities
Opportunity: Provide resources to support new sector work
- Establish a sector innovation fund to create a strong incentive for EPA programs to consider sector approaches to achieve their program goals
Opportunity: Establish sector-based customer service functions
- Identify EPA "points of contact" for selected industry sectors