' Environmental Information     vt;:
   Management for the Future: An    :
   Outside View/3  .
   Introducing Community Right-to^-,
   Know/3            ,„.
   EPA's "One-Stop" State Partners/6
   Pathfindiog Innovations in
   Washington State/6  '"";
   Sector-Based Approaches to Data
   Preform: Common Sense  Iniflative
   Projects/8  '-"'
                                   United States
                                   Protection Agency
                            Office of
                                                                                                     . _L 3fi-v-~'"3
                    May 1998
                                    A  REPORT  ON/REGULATORY   REINVENTION
                                    Reinventing Environmental Information:
                                    Making Data  Resources Work  for
                                    Better Environmental Results
  Introducing REI

      Earlier this year, Administrator Carol
      Browner publicly announced an
      EPA action plan for a broad initia-
  tive called Reinventing Environmental
  Information (REI), launched by the     .:
  Agency in response to information and
  database management needs identified by
  EPA, its regulatory partners, and stake-
  holders. The REI Action Plan is a "living
  document" that commits EPA to meeting
  a series of highly specific 3- to 5-year
  goals. The Agency developed the plan
  with assistance from stakeholder groups
r-  including the Council of the Common
 .Sense Initiative (CSI), EPA's program for
  exploring industry sector-based ap-
  proaches to environmental protectiori,   i,
   But what does it mean tpj'reinvent".
  environmental information—which ^
  sounds like a formidible^ndertaking-—
  with a time hqrji£6'ij_,pf 5 years?       _^._.
   What REIJias targeted for reform is
  not the universj: of environmental infor-
  matioh^as such, but certain "disconnects"
  betv/eeff existing data systems and the
  inforrrjatjon needs .of our evolving envi-
  ronnaentaLprotection system. It is useful
  to think of these disconnects as incom-
  plete transitions between then and now,
  whjre then harks back to the infancy of
   £-'•   • "-  ;;    i      •        •
   r~ehvironroental protection system in
          J%w was a time of fledgling  ~
     jmation teqhnplogy and a single-
       policy focus tied to the sequence of
fsingle-media statutes enacted in those
  early years. Now,$y contrast, is a time of
  rapidly advancing information technology
  capabilities and increasing emphasis on
  cross-media environmental issues, a time
  when cpmmunity-bas.ed envirpnmenjal
  protection (CBEP),_and sector-based
  approaches to environmental problems
  TrequirS increasingly sophisticated aggrega-
  tions of data.
    As scientists:and policymakers inside...
  and outside EPA have publicly stated,
 ;I sound scientific information has become
  increasingly critical for developing work-
  able solutions to,today^s highly complex
  environmental problems: Tomorrow's
 - environmental issues will be no less com-
  plex—^probably more so. To_succeed in
  meeting these challenges, EPA believes the
 ;V United States needs what a prominent
^ stakeholder group called, in a recent
^ repo,rt, "aff jnfdrmation-rich environmen-
  tal protectibn syyfem" (see page 3). In
 — other words, we'need ajystem that takes
  full advantage of information manage-
  ment technology, readily njeets th,e needs
  of decision-makers for integrated, cross-
 ; media configurations of data, arid alsp
  meets outside stakeholders' needs forje_asi-
  ly accessible, understandable enyirdnmen-
 7 tal information. REI is about fundamen-
  tal, strategic database management    7_
 : reforms that will provide the foundation^
  for meeting a wide range of environment
 - tal information needs in th£21st century.
 x It is a collaborative initiative predicated gn
  effective working partnerships between ~™
 _ EPA and its counterpart state
 -f agencies.

Environmental  Reporting—
Required by Law
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  iiu,,ii'i..«vjiihti _—'"ifjn^rmafioji	t^jQmjmstrato£jnay_ reasonff.bly^require. . .  .

A  Bounty of Data

      EPA and its state partners presently
      collect a wealth of environmental
      data under various statutory and
regulatory authorities. Examples include
reports on air emissions under the Clean
Air Act, on wastewater discharges into
waterways under the Clean Water Act,
and on pollutant levels in drinking water
supplies under the Safe Drinking Water
Act. The Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act requires that records be
kept on the transport and storage of haz-
ardous waste, and administration of the
Superfund law entails gathering many
kinds of data including details concern-
ing site assessments and remediation
actions. Under the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the
                       Toxic Substances Control Act, manufac-
                       turers must provide extensive data on
                       the toxicity and uses of pesticides and
                       other chemicals. These and other data
                       are routinely collected to help ensure
                       that environmental laws are properly
                       observed. The result is a rich assortment
                       of diverse and vasdy detailed data, gar-
                       nered under different environmental
                       programs, stored in different databases,
                       and tailored to different uses.
                       But an Outmoded

                       Data System...

                             The existing environmental data
                             management system, which con-
                             tinues to rely heavily on paper-
                       based reporting, is outmoded in a num-
                       ber of ways. As a legacy of preceding
                       decades,  the system is made up of many
                       separately designed databases diat gener-
                       ally are not technically compatible with
                       each other. As  such, the overall system is
                       out of step with recent advances in
                       information technology such as
                       Geographic Information Systems that
                       allow integration of data from multiple
                         The Internet, another significant
                       advance in information technology, has
                       made powerful new tools available to
                       EPA, its partners at state and local levels,
and anyone with access to a computer.
In just a few years, the Internet has
become a widely used device for provid-
ing stakeholders with access to environ-
mental data and information, and the
public_has come to expect the efficiency
of advanced computer technology.
Particularly since the advent of the Toxic
Release Inventory, or TRI (see inset box
on opposite page), the public has
become increasingly knowledgeable
about environmental information as a
resource that can help them safeguard
their neighborhoods and communities.
Conversely, the success of community-
based, sector-based, and other partner-
ship-based approaches  to environmental
protection depends in no small measure
on timely access to multi-media, place-
based, and sector-based configurations
of environmental data.
Needed:  Data

Standards and a

Common  Network

For Sharing


      EPA recognizes that transforming
      environmental data into easily
      accessible and meaningful forms
is one of the most importanrsteps it can
take to strengthen environmental deci-
sion-making, assess the effectiveness of
its own environmental protection strate-
gies, and get the best possible environ-
mental results for the least possible cost.
This recognition lies behind the steps
EPA is taking to reinvent the way it col-
lects, manages, and shares environmental
data. Through REI, EPA committed to
the following four reforms, seen as
building blocks for continued improve-
ments in information management:
• Standardize basic data elements (i.e.,
  adopt common "data standards") to
  allow the aggregation of data from dif-
  ferent databases around places, chemi-
  cals, sectors, and environmental condi-
  tions—starting with six high-priority
  data standards (see box on page 5).
• Provide universal access to electronic
  reporting of~environmental data as a
  means of improving data management
  and access.

                                                                        --i      ^/
  Environmental  Information  Management for the Future—
  An Outside View
    In a January 1998 report entitled
    The Environmental Protection
    System in Transition: Toward a. More
 Desirable Future, the broad-based, bi-
 partisan group of environmental, busi-
 ness, and government leaders known as
 Enterprise for the Environment (E4E)
 put forward their vision for a future
 system summarized as "performance-
 based, information-rich, flexible,
 accountable, and open and trans-
 parent to stakeholders." Based on
 consensus reached during 2 years
 of "deliberations led by former
 EPA Administrator "William  D.     i
 Ruckelshaus, E4E participants      ;
 recommended a "stepping stone"    :
 approach toward an improved
 environmental regulatory sys-
 tem—an incremental, step-by-      .
 step process involving experimen-
 tation, adaptation, and evolution-
 ary change, rather than sudden,
 drastic alterations to the system
 that exists today. The principles     '
 embodied in the E4E report
 closely relate to EPA's reinvention   ;
 approach of testing and evaluating
 new ideas before adopting         :
 changes systematically.            ;
  One of E4E's recommenda-      ;
 tions,  consistent with REI, is for
 the federal  government to under-
 take a well-funded, multi agency,
 multi year initiative to improve
 the quality, collection, manage-
 ment, and accessibility of environ-
 mental information. E4E points
out that such an initiative should
reflect input from all appropriate    ;
stakeholders and should achieve
goals including improved efficien-
cy and integration of information   :
collection systems.
  E4E also makes recommendations
concerning the design of new, informa-
tion-based public policy tools. Noting
that EPA's Toxic Release Inventory
(TRI) has demonstrated how informa-
tion disclosure can directly affect cor-
porate efforts to reduce emissions, the
E4E report states, "The challenge for
the future is to take the lessons learned
from TRI and similar efforts to further
develop ways in which information
                                     disclosure can drive the behavior of
                                     regulated entities in a cost-effective and
                                     flexible manner. Information disclosure
                                     is viewed as an essential element of the
                                     improved environmental protection
                                     system because it provides incentives
                                     for continuous improvement in envi-
                                     ronmental performance that are not
                                     provided by more traditional regulato-
                                     ry approaches."
 Introducing  Community  Right-to-Know—

 Environmental Data Goes Public

 After 1986 Law

           When Congress passed the Emergency
           Planning and Community Right-to-
           Know Act of 1986, the stage was set
for the transformation of environmental  data into
a powerful tool for public participation in com-
munity planning and environmental decision-
making. The law requires industries to develop
contingency plans for chemical emergencies and
to notify their states and communities concerning
the presence, routine emissions, and any  acciden-
tal releases of hazardous chemicals. As mandated
by this law, EPA created the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) to handle an annual influx of
industry reports and make them publicly available.
  When the TRI database became fully operational in 1989, it added new dimensions to
environmental reporting. TRI data covers chemical releases to air, water, and land, so it is
multimedia in configuration. What's more, TRI changed the rules of the game by making
environmental data reports available simultaneously to EPA and to the public. In addition
to paper copy and microfiche options, citizens with access to a computer could connect
electronically to the TRI database and gain access as new information was submitted.
  In the decade since passage of the first federal community right-to-know statute, citi-
zens and other stakeholders have taken advantage of TRI and other data sources and
become knowledgeable "secondary" users of environmental information. In the process,
they have  become more sophisticated concerning applications, and potential applications,
of environmental databases in local and regional planning and decision-making.
Consequently,  the "secondary" uses of environmental information by stakeholders have
become just as important as the originally intended uses.

• Incorporate these improvements into
  EPA's own national environmental
  databases, enabling data aggregation
  from different media in useful ways—
  starting with 13 national systems (see
  table on page 5).
* Work in partnership with states,
  through the Agency's "One-Stop"
  program (see page 6), to integrate EPA
  and state data systems around com-
  mon data standards.
  These four reform areas reflect and
build upon knowledge gained and
progress made recently in information
management inside and outside EPA. In
particular, they reflect lessons learned
through pilot projects in partnerships
with states as well as other reinvention
efforts such as CSI. (See boxes on
"Sector-Based Approaches to Data
Reform," and on "Pathfinding
Innovations in Washington State.")

Projected  Timeframe

for Delivery
      Through REI, EPA committed, in
      partnership  with the states, to
      implement core data standards
and make electronic reporting available
in the Agency's major national systems
within 5 years, starting with critical
compliance systems (see table on page
5). To meet this deadline, it will be ne-
cessary for EPA to promulgate the ne-
cessary data standards, policies, and
protocols within 3 years. As each new
standard for data elements and electron-
ic reporting becomes ready for imple-
mentation, it will be incorporated into
national database systems within 2 years.
   To keep progress on track, EPA set a
series of milestones for data standards
and for electronic reporting. Key mile-
stones for data standards include:
• Promulgate interim standards for six
  priority data standards.
• Develop business rules and  processes
  for implementing the standards and
  promulgating final standards.
• Establish a central Agency program to
  support implementation of die stan-
  dards by EPA and the states.
• Implement data standards and busi-
  ness practices in national systems and
  accept new data in die standard for-
  mat from all participating states.
  The electronic reporting milestones
include the following:
• Complete current electronic reporting
• Complete electronic data interchange
  standards development.
• Draft an Electronic Data Interchange
  and Electronic Commerce policy for
  delegated states.
• Publish a final policy for electronic
  environmental reporting.
• Make at least one electronic
  reporting method available in all
  national systems.
• Require all national systems to use the
  Agency electronic reporting standard.

Benefits of REI

      \-y setting the Agency and its part-
      s ners on a course of achievable
      'goals and milestones,  REI lays
down building blocks that will be the
foundation for a seamless environmental
information system in the future. In the
near term—within 5 years—REI  will
provide a number of benefits, including:
• Easier comparisons of data across dif-
  ferent EPA databases, because com-
  mon data-standards will reduce confu-
  sion stemming from multiple methods
  of representing the same information
  in different data systems.
• Less regulatory burden, because uni-
  versal,  voluntary access to electronic
  reporting will cut paper work and
  eliminate duplicative compliance
  reports to satisfy separate but related
  environmental regulations.
• Better  data quality, because
  electronic reporting will reduce the
  errors that can occur when
  data is entered repetitiously
  into separate data systems,
  with fewer time delays and
  costs from such errors as well.
• Enhanced value of informa-
  tion for customers, because
  common data standards and
  electronic reporting will
  increase the  capability to
  aggregate data across databases
  in useful ways.
     • Stronger, more effective regulatory
       partnerships with states and localities,
       based on data sharing.
     • Improved ability to track and report
       on environmental performance as
       required by the 1997 Government
       Performance and Results Act.

                    REI lays out the basic
                building blocks for building
                an improved environmental
     information network, it does not address
     each and every information reform need.
     Additional reforms will continue at die
     federal and State level. More than 50
     specific projects involving joint collabo-
     ration are currently underway (see pie
     chart below). These projects involve:
     • Streamlining to consolidate data
     • Data transmission to support elec-
       tronic reporting.
     • Reengineering to modernize systems.
     • Developing information requirements
       to better address priority issues (espe-
       cially to reinforce pollution prevention
     • Improving public access to provide
       citizens with better environmental
     • Reducing burden to eliminate unnec-
       essary requirements that divert atten-
       tion away from higher priorities.
     • Monitoring to support more strategic
       and efficient data collection.
        Recognizing the need to ensure better
     coordination and cooperation, in
Current State/EPA Information Reform Projects*
               *•  8%        Streamlining
                                     *Some projects target more than one reform objective.

What's Wrong Today?
Lots of information is collected, but not in a form that is
readily accessible or understandable
                    Historical Data:
                    Lag between time data is collected and reported to regulatory
                    agencies delays analysis and reporting. Information is always
                    available "after the fact."

                    Paper-based transmission:
                    Repetitious entries at each level (i.e., facilities, regulatory agen-
                    cies) are time and resource intensive and more prone to error.

                    Analytical limitations:
                    Media-specific databases and lack of common data standards
                    make it difficult to conduct comprehensive (i.e., multi-media)
                    environmental assessments.
What's the Vision  For the Future?
A seamless,  integrated system for all  users
            Local/State Government
Real-time data:
All parties have ability to check
and act upon latest environmen-
tal performance data.

Electronic transmission:
Single entry improves data quality
and frees up resources for more
productive use.

Multi-media analytical capabilities
allow users to assess overall envi-
ronmental impacts and support
local planning, regulatory deci-
sion making, and community
right-to-know objectives.


about EPA's information reform activities or
about reinvention activities in general, contact
EPA's Office of Reinvention at 202 260-1849.
Or look for more information on the Internet
at . You'll find spe-
cial reports, remarks from senior Administration
and Agency officials, detailed fact sheets, and
much more.

January 1998, EPA and States (working
through their national organization, the
Environmental Council of the States)
established a joint Information
Management Work Group to guide
reform efforts in the future. The group
developed a joint vision on goals for
improving the collection, management,
and use of environmental data, and a set
of operating principles that will guide
how and where reform efforts are
focused — both of which are consistent
with the REI vision.
    In addition to the technical database
    management problems being solved
    through REI and the collaborative
State projects described above, EPA and
external stakeholders have identified se-
veral broader information management
challenges that require further work and
                   "Universal, voluntary access to electronic reporting
                      will cut paper work and eliminate duplicative
                   compliance reports to satisfy separate but related
                                  environmental  regulations."
             close collaboration between EPA and
             states. These ongoing challenges include:
             • Identifying and filling data gaps in the
               Agency's information holdings, partic-
               ularly in light of new directions in
               environmental protection, such as
               CBEP—which requires holistic, cross-
               media assessments of ecosystems and
               other communities—and the pragmat-
               ic need to measure success toward
               achieving environmental goals.
             • Reducing the reporting burden on reg-
               ulated entities by identifying redun-
               dant or unnecessary reporting require-
               ments, while still ensuring that data
               needs for protecting public health and
               the environment are filled.
            • Establishing a clear process for ongo-
              ing stakeholder involvement in critical
              information management issues.
            • Working with Congress and stake-
              holders to identify and remedy statu-
              tory and regulatory barriers to EPA's
              ongoing efforts to streamline environ-
              mental reporting requirements and
              standardize  data across all environ-
              mental databases.
              By continuing to focus on these chal-
            lenges while working closely with states
            and by following through on REI's
            strategic reforms, EPA can help bring
            about a much more efficient, powerful
            system for managing environmental data
            in the information age.
 REI Priorities
    Reengineering  National  Environmental
    Clear Water Act             Water Permit Compliance System	....PCS
                           Water Quality Information System	 .STORE!
    Safe Drinking Water Act
Safe Drinking Water Information System ,		.... .SDWIS
|r-Clear Air Act (CA A)
Aerometric Information Retrieval System (AIRS)
—Air Quality Subsystem	
-AIRS Facility Subsystem  ......	
CAA 112(r)Risk Management
Plan Information System	 — ....

    Resource Conservation and
    Recovery Act (RCRA)
RCRA Information System .
Biennial Reporting System
.. .BBS
    Federal Insecticide, Fungicide,
    and Rodenticide Act
National Compliance Database	."........ .NCDB
    Comprehensive Environmental
    and Liability Act (CERCLA)
CERCLA Information System	CERCLIS
    Emergency Response and
    Community Right-to-Know Act
Toxic Release Inventory System	,	TRIS
Office of Enforcement and
Compliance Assurance Docket
Envirofacts Data Warehouse ..
                                                                  ..,'.. .EF
lEnvirpn mental  Data
Okar 2000 Date: Consistent numeric rep-
e%presentation of calendar date to facilitate
^-^interchange of date data among infor-
p mation systems.
^facility Identification: Consistent termi-
!l: nplpgy and format for identifying regu-
ii± lated entities such as factories and
fa* power plants in all databases.
f^tandard Industrial Classification Code
§,!_JS'pd North American Industrial
 """"""•••  "•  "  i System:Numericalcod-
           |fe ing systems established by the Office of
           Iks Management and Budget and main-
           llgtained by the Department of Commerce
           Is*- io classify businesses or industries by
           K?--lactlvity type.
               'tittide/Longitude: Consistent format
              ' for identifying the location of regulated
              Biological Taxonomy: Consistent termi-
               nology and format for identifying living
            pirjhings.... ;..,'.  .  '. _.__
           tjjjjfjemical Identification: Consistentter-
           Kijjiinoiogy and format for identifying
           jjjffch'e.micals.	 .      '' "" "	."

                                                                1997 Grantees
                                                                1998 Grantees
EPA's "One-Stop"  State  Partners
      To help support state data reform
      projects, EPA provides funding in
      the form of demonstration grants
through its One-Stop program. This
program, named for the vision of a fully
integrated, seamless system that allows
reporting into a single, universally acces-
sible database, is EPA's central program
for collaboration on information reform
projects with the States. To date, EPA
has awarded One-Stop demonstration
grants to 21 states. In 1996, grants were
 given to 5 states: Massachusetts,
 Missouri, New Jersey, Utah, and
 Washington (see below). In 1997, grants
 were awarded to another 8 states—
 Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, New
 Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas,
 and West Virginia. In 1998, grants were
 awarded to an additional 8 states:
 Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Maryland,
 Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New York,
 and Wisconsin.
  As EPA Administrator Carol Browner
 has stated, "These grants demonstrate
 EPA's continued commitment to work
 with the states to develop common-
 sense, cost-effective national environ-
 mental policy. In addition to cutting
 reporting costs for industry and
 government, One-Stop reporting will
 facilitate the community right-to-know
 process by providing all citizens easy
 access to national, state, and local
 environmental information from their
 home computers."
Pathfinding Innovations  in Washington State
      The state of Washington, an EPA
      One-Stop grant recipient, believes
      that "information management
efforts should be driven by the needs of
users and that such efforts should both
produce beneficial results in the short
term and contribute to an overarching
vision." To illustrate Washington's vision,
the figure on page 7 shows how a One-
Stop integrated system would help an
environmental analyst working on a com-
prehensive management strategy for a
particular watershed. Today, answering
the series of questions posed (or any
series of environmental questions) is often
difficult and time-consuming.  Based on a
careful analysis of user needs, however,
the state is developing new capabilities
that allow ready access to cross-program
information. In other words, these new
capabilities will allow just the sort of inte-
grated, multimedia application illustrated
to be performed.
  Washington is also working to reform
environmental reporting from regulated
facilities. One of its pilot projects devel-
oped software for electronic submission

ofaata on Hazardous waste generators to
replace a traditional paper-based system.
Based on an existing software system
developed by the U.S. Navy Bremeton
Shipyard, Washington state developed a
system that tracks, audits, formats, and
electronically submits to the state all of
the hazardous waste data required from,
facilities. Test runs by both large and
small hazardous waste generators demon-
strated significant improvements in data
quality. Better data quality translates into
less state investment in "data cleaning"
and faster reporting to EPA. Feedback
from software users indicates they are
pleased by "getting it right" the first time
and by finding the submission process
made easier.                      .
   This application, known as the
"Turbo-Waste" system, is now available
over the Internet—at . Ultimately, this software
could be tailored to allow similar elec-
tronic submission capabilities for other
regulated parties.
                    watershed Ambient
                                                      Substance Y
                                                      15% above standards
                                                      20% into treatment works
                                                      40% into stack
                                                      40% into landfill
                                                      5 facilities release/use
                                                                                                          XYZ Corporation
                                                                                                               Air  Land Water
                                                                                                      Permits:   —   —    x
                                                                                                      Inspections: x   x    -
                                                                                                      Violations: x
Ecology* Activities for Y
Publications distributed...
Outreach training events...
Local grants allocated...
                                                                                                       XYZ Corp. Enforcements
                                                                                                      Date Type Regulation Fine
                                                                          XYZ Corp. Inspections
                                                                         Date Type Inspector Route

glectpr-BasedApproaches to  Data Reform-
j,ii]J™!!i|;!!1F'  \    .p^            '     I  tf, sSaf
"Ik  'S^      ^         .*  •Vt^L-     r-,   •    A.
Qortimon  Sense  Ingptive Projects
                         / A. jjr
       nder the Common S6nseaI (click on "What's New?"), clarifies which
reports and records a facility must file and maintain. It also
helps interested stakeholders learn what information is available
on a company's environmental performance. The next steps are
to design, pilot test, and make available a single reporting form
to replace the 13 separate environmental reports currently
being filed.
Iron and Steel Sector: Using a small iron and steel "mini-
mill" as a pilot plant, this CSI sector is working with the Utah
                                                         Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to design and
                                                         test a format for electronically reporting multi-media data
                                                         directly into the DEQ. database. The streamlined reporting
                                                         process is expected to reduce transaction costs for regulators
                                                         and for facilities, to enhance cross-media examination of pollu-
                                                         tion prevention opportunities, and to advance the Utah DEQ's
                                                         efforts to improve environmental data management and make
                                                         environmental information more accessible to the public.
                                                         Oil and Gas Sector: With the help of the Marathon Oil
                                                         refinery in Texas City, Texas, the petroleum refining sector was
                                                         able to take an in-depth look at all applicable air reporting
                                                         requirements and, with feedback from the surrounding com-
                                                         munity, to assess whether facilities' reports were understandable
                                                         to citizens. The project identified and recommended modifica-
                                                         tions for duplicative or obsolete reporting requirements and for
                                                         addressing community needs. The project provided a clear pic-
                                                         ture of the complexity of reporting requirements and the
                                                         redundancy in information being gathered, such as name and
                                                         address. With this data and the results of community meetings
                                                         in hand, project participants will develop a new air emissions
                                                         reporting system—first at a single petroleum facility, with the
                                                         ultimate goal of expanding the system to include other facilities
                                                         and other media.

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