Lean  Government
                                Region 1 Laboratory Purchasing Process
                                           Lean Event Case Study
In January 2014, EPA Region 1 held a value-stream mapping event to improve the Region's small purchasing process. Each year, the
Region 1 Office of Environmental Measurement and Evaluation (OEME) makes between 500 - 600 small purchases to acquire
necessary laboratory and field supplies, equipment, and services. This event examined the OEME process from identification of the
need for an item through completion of the purchase transaction. The Region initiated the project to increase efficiency as the
process team reduced from three people to one person, and to prevent errors created by handwritten orders. Event participants
created a new process that will reduce the number of days to complete an order by 60 percent; combine similar purchases into
fewer, larger purchases; and will transfer all orders to an electronic system.As of July 2014, errors in lab purchase forms have been
reduced by 50 percent.
 The improvements in the new process are expected to reduce lead time in permit review by 72 percent. The new process will also
 create new opportunities for staff learning and feedback.
Number of steps to
complete purchase
Number of days to complete
an order
Current State
Anticipated Future State
Anticipated Percent Change
      *Results are anticipated based on the new process design
    Figure 1: The Lean Event Team (Phil Warren, Kathy Ivanovski, Donna Beecy, Bhavita Patel, Ernie Waterman, Tim Bridges

  Scope of the Lean Project
  Project Scope: The Lean event scope encompassed the OEME laboratory small purchasing process from identification of the
  need for a purchase through completion of the purchase transaction. This event did not include examination of the bankcard log
  and cost allocation process, which is administered by OARM.

     1.   Streamline the process to identify, review and approve purchases -- especially for acquisition of regular, routine laboratory
     2.   Develop a standard, electronic order, approval and tracking system.

     1.   Reduce the number of individual purchases by 20 percent. Many purchases were duplicates; for example, many people
         would order a single box of gloves during a short period of time. The event team aimed to reduce the total number of
         individual purchases by consolidating them.
     2.   Evenly distribute the purchasing workload across all months of the fiscal year, in order to prevent bottlenecks during peak
         ordering months.
     3.   Reduce the number of incorrect order forms received by the purchasing staff by 100 percent.
                           Figure 2: Current Process Map (top) and Future Process Map (bottom)
Process Changes and Improvements
Participants in the Lab Purchasing Lean event mapped the current purchasing process in Region 1 and analyzed the process map to
develop streamlined procedures.

The event team identified the following process changes that the Region 1 lab will implement:
      Automate the order form so that all information is standardized and submitted to purchasing correctly.
      Set up a visual inventory system (see Figure 2 below) for commonly ordered supplies.
      Provide the purchasing agent with a list of personnel who work in the same lab area so that their purchases can be bundled.
      Reduce review steps for items that are required to be ordered on a regular basis, such as standards.

               Figure 3: Visual Inventory System Labeling Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large Disposable Gloves
The team has held 30-, 60-, and 90-day check-in meetings to coordinate on implementation of the process improvements that the team
identified during the event. They also held an all-hands meeting at the lab to train everyone affected by the new process. Over summer
2014, the team implemented all of the identified improvements, and shifted responsibility for certain tasks (e.g. verifying that purchases
of electronic equipment complies with relevant regulations) from the purchasing agent to the purchaser, which reduced review time and
steps. As a result of the implementation of these improvements, errors in the lab purchase forms have been reduced by 50 percent.
              For More
Lean Event Contacts:

Linda Darveau, Facilitator, (617) 918-1718, darveau.linda@epa.gov
Danielle Gaito, Facilitator, (617) 918-1297, gaito.danielle@epa.gov

EPA Lean Government Initiative:
Kimberly Green-Goldsborough, EPA Office of Policy, (202) 566-2355

United States
Environmental Protection
                Office of Policy
December 2014