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Source: US Environment Protection Agency

News Releases from Region 08

11/10/2020

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DENVER – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has implemented the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) to 83% of the agency across the U.S.

“EPA’s Lean Management System has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs that secure clean air, water and land across communities in Region 8’s states and tribal lands,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin.  “We are beginning to see some truly impressive results in terms of metrics and environmental outcomes that will serve as a foundation for continuous improvement.”

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.

EPA’s Region 8 has accounted for 14 of those process improvements using ELMS.

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.

Since ELMS implementation began in 2017, EPA Region 8 has seen improvements across all program areas. This includes progress toward one of the agency’s priority goals of improving air quality. Using ELMS, Region 8 saw a reduction in air quality nonattainment areas from 25 in 2018 to 15 currently and 41% decrease in air quality State Implementation Plans awaiting EPA action, from 34 in 2018 to 20 currently.

Additionally, Region 8’s use of ELMS resulted in an 82% decrease in EPA-issued Clean Water Act water quality discharge permits determined to be in significant noncompliance, from 28 in 2018 to 5 currently.

Finally, a more than 100% increase in the number of EPA Region 8 brownfields sites – properties with environmental contamination concerns – made ready for anticipated reuse in communities, from 59 to 120.

“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

You can also follow the agency on social media using #EPAat50.

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