Press Release: Nearing Full Implementation, EPA’s Lean Management System Delivers Results

Additionally, EPA Region 4’s Land, Chemicals, and Redevelopment Division had 20 Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) contaminated sites regulated under the Toxics Substances Control Act that require documents to be approved by EPA. At the end of 2019, 18 of the 20 sites had approvals older than six months, which is considered a PCB approvals backlog. This backlog represents an inefficiency of the PCB program to complete approvals that may affect the completion of cleanups and renewal of permits. The team used various ELMS problem-solving tools to increase efficiency in managing PCB approvals and reduce the backlog. The goal was to go from 18 backlog approvals to 13 by the end of fiscal year 2020. Using ELMS, the team actually reduced this backlog to 6.

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.

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