Lean  Government
                   Region 10 Correspondence Management System (CMS) Process
                                             Lean  Event Case Study
In December 2013, EPA Region 10 held a kaizen event to improve its Correspondence Management System (CMS) process. Region 10
receives a significant number of letters from Congress, key stakeholders, and the public each year. Incoming letters are received by
the Regional Administrator's Office and assigned to the appropriate program staff using the Agency's IT system, called CMS.
Responding to letters demanded a significant time investment from personnel at all levels of the organization; staff frequently missed
deadlines to respond, and complex responses led to inefficient and frustrating review and revision cycles. Program offices have less
than 10 business days to respond, but prior to the event, the Region achieved its deadline only 28 percent of the time and averaged a
response time of 26 business days. By facilitating a faster response to more letters, the improvements identified during the Lean
event enhance the clarity and timeliness of information the Region 10 office can provide to the public, and free up critical staff time
in the Region's highest profile environmental programs.
 The new process will reduce frustration for program staff and produce higher quality responses to letters.
Average # of business days needed to
complete a response
% of CMS requiring significant revision
% deadlines achieved
Old Process
New Process
Percent Change
     *Results are anticipated based on the new process design

 Since implementation of the new process, the average response time decreased by 50 percent to 13 days, and the Region achieves
 response deadlines on 44 percent of correspondence. The new process reduces frustration for program staff and produces higher
 quality response letters. Anecdotal results indicate that revisions under the new process have been greatly reduced.
                                                           The Region 10 CMS Lean Event Team

Scope of the Lean Project
Project Scope: This project focused on the CMS process, starting with the receipt of a letter or CMS assignment within Region 10
through the mailing of a signed letter to requester. This included the Regional process for granting extensions, and records
management procedures related to CMS.

The project did not include the Headquarter process for assigning CMS to Region 10 or the Headquarter process for granting
extensions; nor did it include significant changes to the CMS online IT system.

Goal: Create a new CMS process that assists program staff in meeting deadlines and uses the appropriate level of Agency resources.

       Document the new Regional CMS process
       Develop and update standard operating procedures based on process changes identified in the Lean event
       Ensure that CMS responses comply with all applicable  legal requirements and agency policies
       Establish clear protocols for records management
Process Changes and Improvements
                                    Figure 1: Process map for the original CMS process.
Through the Lean event, the project team refined Region 10's CMS process to more quickly and accurately route assignments to the
proper program office and standardize procedures to prevent bottle necks and additional levels of revisions. The new process  includes
the following process changes:
       A "triage" process for all incoming CMS that assigns the correspondence to a program office and classifies it as either simple or
       For simple CMS (estimated 85 percent of Regional correspondence), staff will use a template to produce responses efficiently
        while still ensuring a high quality letter. The template will also minimize chances of common grammatical, punctuation, and
        formatting errors. Minimizing even small errors will prevent the need for revision.
       Simple CMS will not require a Regional Administrator signature for completion; a Regional Administrator signature will only be
        required for complex CMS.

        The Regional Administrator's Office will provide guidance to help
        staff respond to complex CMS by identifying key issues to address
        in the letter. This added step will prevent the need for additional
        Program offices now follow a single streamlined procedure for
        naming and archiving electronic copies of completed letters once
        completed, which maximizes the ability to quickly search for and
        locate these records at a later time.
The project team implemented a pilot of the triage process and response
template in three program offices in Region 10 running through spring 2014.
Initial results from the pilot indicate progress toward meeting the results
anticipated in the future state. The timeframe to assign incoming CMS
reduced on average from five business days to less than one, and the
overall number of business days needed to close a CMS dropped from 26
business days to 14, with some program offices seeing their time
reduced to an average of just six business days. The percentage of responses meeting agency deadlines increased from 28 percent to 58
percent. In all instances, performance improved markedly as the pilot progressed.
                              Figure 2: The Lean team mapping the future process.
However, the pilot identified significant variation in process time among the regional program offices. The program office that sees the
greatest number of CMS and a large amount of complex CMS continued to lag behind the future state target. Additional steps have been
taken to address unique process challenges within specific program offices. The project team is also completing interviews with staff to
gauge their satisfaction with the new process.

Region  10 rolled out the new process to all Regional program offices during fall 2014. The Lean project led to a separate white paper in
partnership with the Office of Air and Radiation on redesigning the Agency's CMS IT application. The Region is also exploring whether
Microsoft SharePoint offers opportunities to further improve challenges with document routing and version  control as responses are
being drafted.
               For  More
Lean Event Contacts:

Brooks Stanfield, Region 10, (206)-553-4423, stanfield.brooks@epa.gov
Davis Zhen, Region 10, (206)-553-7660, zhen.davis@epa.gov

Team Lead
Matthew Magorrian, Region 10, (206)-553-6284, magorrian.matthew@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