PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has received a $47,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation to expand its Lean Government initiative.
Last November, under the leadership of Director Janet Coit, DEM initiated a Lean staff training program to enhance customer service by simplifying regulatory and permitting processes for companies doing business or investing in Rhode Island. This effort began with the training of 10 facilitators, followed by Lean reviews of DEM’s site remediation, wetlands preliminary determination, and air resources preconstruction minor source permitting processes. These initial reviews resulted in 110 action items designed to eliminate waste and close the gaps identified by program staff.
“We are excited to receive this support from the Rhode Island Foundation,” said Director Coit. “It will allow us to continue to enhance customer service by improving our business processes with Lean government tools and methods. Improving customer service to Rhode Island businesses and making our permitting programs clear, predictable, transparent and user-friendly is a top priority at DEM, and this grant will help move this effort forward.”
One result from the initial round of Lean reviews is a new policy known as EXPRESS, which is being developed by DEM’s site remediation team. EXPRESS stands for Expedited Policy for Remediation of Environmental Simple Sites. It will streamline the way that performing parties submit information to DEM’s Office of Waste Management (OWM) and the way that OWM reviews projects on contaminated sites that do not pose significant environmental or human health risks. Implementing this policy will allow the Department to focus resources on reviewing and cleaning up sites that have a more significant environmental impact.
According to Terrence Gray, P.E., DEM’s associate director for air, waste and compliance, the second phase of the Lean initiative will include outside stakeholders in the review process. “We look forward to reviewing critical permitting processes with outside customers and stakeholders with an eye toward improving the permitting experience for all involved,” he said. “The Department is also excited to move forward with building a single permitting portal for the acceptance of all applications submitted to DEM.”