Lean:  Excellence  in
               Improving Environmental Agency Processes
                           with Lean and Six Sigma
Over the past few years EPA and state environmental agencies have experimented with an exciting new approach
to improve government processes. Approximately 30 States and many federal agencies are using Lean and Six
Sigma to achieve dramatic results. EPA, in partnership with EGOS, is working to expand the use of this continuous
improvement approach.
         Lean in Government
 Using Lean, environmental agencies have improved
  quality, cost effectiveness, service delivery and respon-
  siveness to the public, without compromising environ-
  mental  protection.
 Lean is  a collection of principles, methods, and tools
  that improve the speed and efficiency of any process
  by eliminating waste.
 Although Lean originated in manufacturing opera-
  tions, the tools have been successfully applied in or-
  ganizations across all sectors, including the govern-
 Lean methods are highly adaptable and could be used
  in a myriad of processes ranging from rulemaking to
  processing of grants and contracts.

     How Lean Achieves  Results
Lean techniques such as value stream mapping and kai-
zen rapid  improvement events identify and eliminate
unnecessary and non-value added process steps and ac-
tivities that have built up over time. Lean efforts are not
just about fixing broken processes. State agencies have
found that these methods enable them to understand
how their processes work on the ground and to build a
culture of continuous improvement.

By getting process activities and procedures to function
smoothly and consistently, agencies free staff time to
focus on higher value activities more directly linked to
environmental protection. While successfully imple-
menting Lean requires  hard work and commitment, the
results can be impressive.
     Benefits of Using Lean
    S  Achieves environmental results
    /  Ensures better customer service
    S  Reduces process complexity
    /  Enhances process speed
    S  Produces quality products and services
    /  Improves staff morale
 EPA's Office of Water, EPA Region 7 and 4 States
  (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska) are using Lean
  to significantly improve water quality standard setting
  and NPDES processes, achieving dramatic reductions
  in review steps.
 EPA's Region 6 conducted a Value Stream Mapping
  event to improve it's Pesticides Enforcement Process.
  As a result, the total process time was reduced by 53%.
  In addition,  a Kaizen and Value Stream Mapping event
  was conducted to improve the NEPA 309 Review Proc-
  ess. This resulted in faster completion of project re-
  views, clarified guidance and an improved communica-
  tions strategy.
 Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IA DNR) has
  conducted over 30 Lean kaizen rapid improvement
  events. Results include decreasing lead times on un-
  derground storage tank correction action decisions
  from 38 months to 3 months and reducing the average
  time to issue standard air construction permits from 62
  to 6 days.
                                For More Information:
                     www. ecos.org/sect ion/projects/? id=2292

            Key Lean Tools
         Types of Administrative Waste
    Value Stream Mapping (VSM) - Value stream
    mapping refers to the activity of developing a
    high-level visual representation of the process
    flow involved in delivering a product or service (a
    "value stream") to customers.  VSM events focus
    on identifying sources of non-value added activity
    (waste) and prioritizing future improvement ac-

    Kaizen Events- Kaizen means "to change for the
    good of all."  Kaizen activity is often focused in
    rapid process improvement events (kaizen
    events) that bring together a cross-functional
    team for 2-5 days to study a specific process and
    immediately implement process changes.

    Six Sigma - Lean is often combined with Six
    Sigma, a process improvement methodology that
    uses statistical tools to improve quality, reduce
    defects, and eliminate variation.
Excess Motion
Moving Items
Backlog of Work,
Excess Materials/Information
Data Errors, Missing Info
Unneeded Reports,
Doing Work Not Requested
Unnecessary Process Steps
Approval Cycles
Trips to Remote Printer
Report Routing
           Lean  in Government Tools
          What Lean is  Not
    Lean is not about compromising environmental
    protection, loosening environmental regulations,
    or foregoing an agency's commitment to environ-
    mental protection. Lean seeks to correct ineffi-
    ciencies in administrative processes and work-
    flow, enhancing an agency's ability to protect the

    Lean is not about cutting jobs. Lean retains the
    current staff, but may rearrange or assign new
    duties to those staff. It is not a test for job per-
    formance; rather it seeks to improve the entire
    agency's performance.  Lean often improves staff
    morale, as employees have a hand in designing
    work processes that enable success.

    Lean is not just another "flavor of the month."
    Lean methods have been proven effective many
    times over and in a multitude of settings making
    it different from past management trends, such
    as TQM. Unlike past trends that focused on qual-
    ity only, Lean addresses quality, cost and deliv-
    ery. Lean's focus on rapid implementation brings
    real improvement and compelling results fast,
    sparking momentum forfurther improvement.

          Kimberly Green-Goldsborough, US EPA

          Scott Bowles, US EPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Office of Policy,
Strategic Management Division
 November 2011