Nearing Full Implementation, EPA’s Lean Management System Helps the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deliver Results
WASHINGTON (November 12, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that it has implemented the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) to 83% of the agency across the United States. EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) has been a leader in ELMS implementation, supporting the agency’s efforts to protect public health and the environment from potential risks from pesticides and toxic chemicals.
“Successful implementation of ELMS strategy in conjunction with the steadfast resolve and commitment from career staff at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention has led our organization to be more efficient and effective than ever before,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Our office will continue to leverage ELMS to make process improvements so that we can deliver even greater public health and environmental results that Americans deserve.”
ELMS is an agency-wide systematic approach to continuous process improvement. It is based on lean principles used for years by the private sector and is comprised of six components: visual management, standard process, cascading performance measures, problem solving, business reviews and huddles, and leader behaviors. EPA implementation of each of these elements has allowed EPA to make significant improvements to the speed and quality at which it delivers its services to the American people.
EPA Office of Continuous Improvement – the team responsible for implementing ELMS – set a goal to deploy this system to 80% of agency personnel and use it to improve 250 processes by fiscal year 2020. Both goals were successfully met with the agency reporting over 500 processes improved and 83% of personnel using ELMS.
OCSPP has accounted for 12 of those process improvements.
ELMS has enabled teams across the agency to better measure and improve their effectiveness in delivering the most crucial services for the American public. Leveraging ELMS, OCSPP can execute processes quicker and more efficiently to protect citizens and environment from potential risks from pesticides and toxic chemicals. For example, under ELMS the average time needed to publish a fully updated list of chemicals subject to TSCA section 12(b) export notification requirements went from 18 months to 3 months—an 83% decrease. Additionally, EPA increased the number of Pesticide Registration Improvement Act applications completing the first stage of EPA’s review by more than 25%. This allowed the agency to initiate its science review earlier and more quickly identify and correct deficient applications.
Guided by ELMS tools and principles, OCSPP was also to reduce the publication cost for a conventional pesticide in the Federal Register, the federal government’s daily publication containing new and updated agency regulations. Through implementing ELMS, OCSPP was able to reduce the cost of publication for a conventional pesticide from $2,640 to $1,980—a 25% cost reduction.
As part of the new system, the executives in EPA’s 23 national programs and regional offices monitor over 800 measures each month. If a measure’s target is not met, problem solving is performed and a plan is created for getting back on track. In addition, over 10,000 of EPA’s staff on the front line now huddle in small groups for 15 minutes each week to review electronic boards used to track the flow of their team’s work and the metrics used to measure process performance.
“I’m extremely proud of this agency’s embrace of lean principles and commitment to continuous improvement,” said Henry Darwin, EPA’s chief operating officer and visionary behind ELMS. “Setting numeric goals, tracking workflow and performance, and solving problems using data and evidence is how I believe this agency can better protect human health and the environment. ELMS has given EPA employees a new way to accomplish our mission and the results speak for themselves.”
Some of the other most notable process improvements that have been made across EPA since the system was implemented included reducing the agency’s backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests by almost 45%, increasing the number of inspections reports that are completed on-time and communicated to the regulated entity from around 49% to 82%, and a reduction in the number of backlogged new permit applications by almost 150.
For more information of EPA’s continuous improvement efforts, please visit https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/about-office-continuous-improvement-oci.
For more on EPA’s 50th Anniversary and how the agency is protecting America’s waters, land and air, visit: https://www.epa.gov/50, or follow the agency on social media using #EPAat50.