Managing for Results at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A Report to the 43rd President and 107th Congress

RELEASE VERSION

This is the release version of Managing for Results at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: A Report to the 43rd President and 107th Congress. This report is being produced as part of a larger project called the "Transition Dialogue Series" which produced a set of federal management improvement recommendations in November 2000 for the new President and Congress to consider.

A bound version of this report will be published in February, 2001 and distributed to key officials in the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Congress, and other stakeholder organizations at that time.

For electronic copies of this report, as well as more information on the entire "Transition Dialogue Series," visit the project’s website at:

www.rppi.org/t2g.html

For more information, contact:

Carl D. DeMaio

Director, Transitioning to Governance Project

Reason Public Policy Institute

311 North Washington Street, Suite 300

Alexandria, VA 22314

703-461-3320

Fax: 703-519-6271

www.rppi.org

CarlDeMaio@aol.com

The Transition Dialogue Series

"Decision making in the environmental world resides in the context of habits of conflict, rather than habits of conversation, and by that I mean that we have a long standing context in which environmental decision making has been highly contentious, and the very emphasis on bean counting and enforcement makes it a conflict-driven context.

To move towards trust building—which is a first step to communication, which is a step to better understanding risk issues, and therefore better informed decision making—does require a new context of conversation and I think that this dialogue today is a real positive first step."

–EPA Transition Dialogue Session, October 11, 2000

 

Table of Contents

An Open Letter to the Next Administration and Congress

Purpose and Methodology of the Transition Dialogue Series

Summary of Observations and Recommendations

Dialogue Participant List

Part One: Progress Points at EPA

Part Two: Challenges and Opportunities at EPA

Part Three: Next Steps and Recommendations

Appendix: Complete Transcript of Transition Dialogue Session

January, 2001

Dear Officials of the New Administration and 107th Congress:

Thirty years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was created—born out of a commitment for safeguarding our nation’s environment and public health. As you transition into a new Administration and new Congress, you will no doubt receive advice and recommendations from a variety of think tanks and interest groups on how our environmental protection system can be upgraded and updated.

Much of the advice you will be inundated by will focus primarily on policy decisions these various groups would like to see made on a multitude of issues, e.g. clean air, clean water, hazardous waste clean-ups, global climate change, etc. However, getting the right environmental policies in place is only part of the challenge you will face in enhancing our nation’s environment.

Too often overlooked during the rush to debate and change policies are the less-glamorous, yet fundamentally important issues of how to improve the day-to-day management of the nation’s environmental protection system. Indeed, examining the performance of the existing system and exploring best management practices for environmental protection should be high on your priority list as you consider what new directions you want to take the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in.

Having a clear widespread agreement on how to measure environmental progress, understanding what performance data tells us about the state of the environment and its impact on public health, and examining a range of strategies for achieving environmental goals should be critical prerequisites to any changes in environmental policies. In short, upgrading and updating the environmental protection system must be done in a results-oriented context, where performance measures define accountability and innovation informs decision making on the environment.

That is why our organizations—dedicated to improving government performance on environmental issues—collaborated on a unique initiative to develop non-policy specific recommendations on improving the management and performance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to the election, our organizations organized and hosted a discussion session on the U.S. EPA that brought together environmentalists, academics, government reform experts, state representatives, business groups, current and former EPA staff, political and career officials, and Congressional staff.

The dialogue offers non-partisan, experience-tested observations and recommendations for the next Administration and Congress to consider. This report summarizes the major themes that emerged during the discussions. Universal agreement on these sometimes contentious issues was not anticipated. Instead, we sought to stimulate productive, solution-oriented dialogue among the various interests represented at the session. As you will see from the report and transcripts, we achieved that critical goal and found several areas of broad agreement on key principles for improving the environmental protection system.

It is our sincere hope that you will continue the bipartisan dialogue that we began before the election with the Transition Dialogue Series, as well as commit to improving the management and performance of the U.S. EPA by considering the thoughtful advice that this diverse group of experts offers. Our organizations stand ready to assist you in any way possible on these important issues.

Sincerely,

Carl D. DeMaio
Reason Public Policy Institute
Robbie Roberts
Environmental Council of the States
Bruce Josten
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Bob O’Neill
National Academy of Public Administration
Debra Knopman
Progressive Policy Institute
Don Ritter
National Environmental Policy Institute
 Blaine Liner
Urban Institute
Ken Jones
Green Mountain Institute for Environmental Democracy

Purposes and Methodology

Over the past thirty years, significant progress has been made in safeguarding the nation’s environment. Through the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the development of a national system for environmental protection and natural resources management, the federal government has taken an active role in designing and managing programs to stimulate environmental protection. The impact of these government programs—coupled with initiatives driven by businesses, non-governmental organizations, and individuals—all contribute to national progress on environmental issues.

As a result, the manner in which the federal government manages its environmental programs plays a critical role in the overall performance of our national environmental protection system. Over the past ten years, the federal government has begun several reforms designed to improve its management practices. Statutes such as the Government Performance and Results Act, Chief Financial Officers Act, and the Information Technology Management Reform Act, as well as initiatives such as the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, are all designed to instill a "managing for results" ethic within each government program.

How well has the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency done in implementing these and other management reforms? This critical question formed the heart of a bipartisan project launched by Reason Public Policy Institute in coordination with the National Academy of Public Administration, Progressive Policy Institute, Urban Institute, Green Mountain Institute for Environmental Democracy, National Environmental Policy Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These diverse organizations collaborated on a project to develop recommendations for the incoming Administration and Congress on improving the management and performance of programs at the U.S. EPA.

A Timely Initiative for the New Administration and Congress

In the past few years, the calls for the upgrading and updating of our nation’s environmental laws have grown louder. While a consensus seems to have emerged that the next generation of environmental progress will be achieved only through changes in the current environmental protection system, there has yet to emerge widespread agreement on what changes are needed. Indeed, the debate over proposals to change environmental policies and statutes remains highly contentious and fraught with passionate disagreements.

As the new Administration and Congress prepare their agendas, transition into power, and begin to turn their attention to environmental policy, it is imperative that fundamental management and performance issues facing federal environmental programs receive adequate focus and attention. Indeed, management and performance issues can serve as points of unity across the various sides of the environmental debate.

Key Objectives of the EPA Transition Dialogue Initiative

With this context in mind, the overall purposes of the EPA Transition Dialogue Initiative were:

  • Create a non-partisan vehicle to bring together the diverse perspectives from the environmental debate for thoughtful discussion on key management and performance issues facing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Foster a sustained commitment to improving the dialogue on environmental issues
  • Communicate lessons learned, helpful practices, and next-step ideas for improving management and performance at the U.S. EPA to the incoming Administration and Congress, and
  • Offer broad "performance-based" principles that will be useful to policymakers as they consider statutory and policy changes for environmental issues.

Managing the Dialogue

On October 11, 2000, the EPA Transition Dialogue was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. In order to provide for a manageable discussion, the dialogue session was limited to 35 individuals. Participants were selected with the goal of maximizing the diversity of views and perspectives on environmental protection issues. Participants included environmentalists, academics, government reform experts, state representatives, business groups, current and former EPA staff, political and career officials, and Congressional staff.

 

During the session, participants were asked to address three key questions:

  • What progress has been made over the past 10 years to improve the management and performance of programs at the U.S. EPA?
  • What challenges remain to be addressed before additional progress can be made at the U.S. EPA?
  • If you could give only three action items for the next Administration and Congress to focus on to improve management and performance of EPA programs, what would they be?

The session was professionally facilitated and audio taped. An executive summary of the discussion, with a complete transcript of the session, is contained in this report.

SUMMARY OF

OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Section One: Areas of Progress

Progress Point #1

Over the past 10 years, widespread agreement has emerged that current environmental laws and policies are outdated and need updating.

Progress Point #2

The EPA has increased its openness to dialogue with various stakeholder groups.

Progress Point #3

Some progress has occurred in the development of environmental performance indicators, strategic planning, and goal-oriented budgeting at EPA.

Progress Point #4

The EPA has achieved some progress in its use of risk-based decision making.

Progress Point #5

Expanded focus on public health and economic and health impacts of environmental protection.

Progress Point #6

Within EPA, a noticeable culture change has begun over the past 10 years that is performance-oriented and innovation-centered.

Progress Point #7

EPA has enhanced its financial management practices.

Section Two: Challenges and Areas for Improvement

Challenge Point #1

Effective management and optimal performance of many EPA programs is hampered by outdated statutes and a lack of "legal room" needed for innovation.

Challenge Point #2

Even absent statutory changes, the EPA could and should have shown more leadership to upgrade and innovate environmental protection.

Challenge Point #3

The EPA needs to assess its internal program structures to examine ways to better integrate environmental protection efforts across media.

Challenge Point #4

The EPA’s policies and approaches for examining and making decisions based on risk has been uneven at best.

Challenge Point #5

The EPA faces significant challenges in managing the development and analysis of environmental science, as well as using science to inform its decision making.

Challenge Point #6

The EPA lacks adequate environmental performance measures, has not addressed critical data shortcomings, and has not sufficiently mapped the strategic linkages between its programs and ultimate improvements in the nation’s environment.

Challenge Point #7

Differences among the EPA regional offices, as well as change-resistant culture in some regions, have presented management challenges at the EPA.

Challenge Point #8

The EPA could do more to grant states and localities flexibilities to improve environmental outcomes, particularly through the NEPPS system.

Challenge Point #9

The EPA needs to engage in a process to clarify roles and responsibilities in environmental protection efforts of the various segments of society and levels of government.

Challenge Point #10

The EPA needs to improve its personnel management system to provide clearer measures of performance and better incentives and training for its employees.

Challenge Point #11

Political relations with Congress and stakeholder groups needs to improve.

Section Three: Recommendations and Next Steps

Recommendation Theme #1

Begin a bipartisan process to comprehensively upgrade and update the nation’s environmental protection statutes (possibly by naming a bipartisan commission to develop model legislation).

Recommendation Theme #2

Even in the absence of comprehensive statutory revisions, the EPA should look for ways to create "legal space" within existing statutes to promote innovation and results.

Recommendation Theme #3

Performance-based Environmentalism: Immediately begin a process to identify truly outcome-oriented performance measurements to track environmental improvements and improve and standardize environmental data systems in partnership with the states and localities.

Recommendation Theme #4

Performance-based Environmentalism: Establish performance measures that track strategic logic for environmental protection from end outcomes to intermediate outcomes.

Recommendation Theme #5

Performance-based Environmentalism: Dialogue with Congress and stakehodlers on what performance measures they agree with; use performance information as the basis of stakeholder dialogue on the environment.

Recommendation Theme #6

Performance-based Environmentalism: Use performance goals and measures as the basis for granting flexibility for results.

Recommendation Theme #7

Performance-based Environmentalism: The Administrator should commit to a clear strategic management model early; revise and update the EPA strategic plan.

Recommendation Theme #8
Performance-based Environmentalism: Establish a performance-based personnel management system that emphasizes human capital planning.

Recommendation Theme #9

Improve the credibility of EPA science; evaluate the current policies governing the use of science at EPA and consider the appointment of a science czar.

Recommendation Theme #10

Consider the creation of an independent Bureau of Environmental Information and Statistics.

Recommendation Theme #11

Articulate a clear policy for risk-based decision making and offer comprehensive training to EPA staff on how to implement the policy.

Recommendation Theme #12

Re-evaluate the regulatory process and peer review process at EPA.

Recommendation Theme #13

Examine organizational restructuring of EPA; consider strategies to promote cross-media program review and coordination as well as re-integration of enforcement back into each program area.

Recommendation Theme #14

Build the technical capacity of states and localities to effectively manage environmental protection.

Recommendation Theme #15

Enhance efforts to improve coordination across federal agencies in environmental protection efforts.

Recommendation Theme #16

The EPA should examine the balance between internal financial controls and customer service in its grants and contracts management processes.

Recommendation Theme #17

Clarify the roles of the various actors in efforts to protect the environment; shift the role of program implementation to the states and localities.

Recommendation Theme #18

Consider Integrating the Management and Information Functions into a Single Office within EPA.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE EPA TRANSITION DIALOGUE SESSION

This report is designed to provide a brief summary to officials in the new Administration and Congress on a multitude of observations and recommendations that were offered during a five-hour dialogue session held on improving the management and performance of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. When reviewing the contents of this report, from the executive summary to the actual full transcript of the dialogue session, the reader should be mindful of several things:

  • The EPA Transition Dialogue session was NOT designed to seek consensus on the issues raised during the course of discussion.
  • The Executive Summary contained in this report summarize the general points made during the course of discussion. By no means should the summary of points made be construed to represent the consensus or agreement of all participants.
  • In order to achieve a more robust and deeper understanding of the diversity of ideas and observations made during the EPA Transition Dialogue Session, the reader is strongly encouraged to review the actual full-length transcript.

Where possible and appropriate, actual quotations have been used from the transcript to illustrate the content and context of observations and recommendations made. In some cases, contradictory quotations are provided to illustrate divergent views and recommendations.

EPA Transition Dialogue Session

October 11, 2000

 

MODERATOR

Carl D. DeMaio, Reason Public Policy Institute

PARTICIPANT LIST

David Zeigle, Environmental Protection Agency

Blaine Liner, Urban Institute

Ed Kratzer, General Accounting Office

Christophe Tulou, Christophe Tulou Associates

Susan Dudley, George Mason University

Chris Paterson, Green Mountain Institute

Terry Davies, Resources for the Future

Paul Larkin, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Andy Wheeler, Senator Inhofe

Angela Antonelli, Heritage Foundation

Nandan Kenkeremath, House Commerce Committee

Joanne Jordan, Jellinek, Schwartz & Connolly

Marcus Peacock, House Transportation Committee

Ed Joseph, Environmental Performance Institute

LaJuana Wilcher, LeBoeuf, Lamb Greene & MacRae

Maurice McTigue, Mercatus Center

Linda Rimer, Environmental Protection Agency

Robbie Roberts, Environmental Council of the States

Joe Mayhew, American Chemistry Council

Chris Wye, National Academy of Public Administration

Randy Randoll, ExxonMobil

John Stoody, Senate Small Business Committee

Mary Gade, Sonnenschein/National Academy of Public Administration

Charlie Grizzle, The Grizzle Company

Ron Eidshaug, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Fran McPoland, White House Task Force on Recycling

George Meyer, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources

Alex Beehler, Manufacturers Alliance

Richard Belzer, Center for the Study of Business

Lynn Scarlett, Reason Public Policy Institute

Jay Benforado, Environmental Protection Agency

Greg Planicka, National Environmental Policy Institute

Natalee Roy, National Pollution Prevention Roundtable

Debra Knopman, Progressive Policy Institute

Section One:

Areas of Progress

"One key area of progress has been the recognition within EPA that it can not alone bring about environmental performance—that it has to leverage the activities of others, whether it is through changes in behavior of different participants or investment in resources and investments of others. EPA has taken a real leadership role in disseminating ideas out to other constituents…a leadership role in leveraging information and ideas and disseminating those outside of the agency to the entities that ultimately have to grab a hold of those ideas and run with them."

What progress has been made over the past 10 years to improve the management and performance of programs at the U.S. EPA?

 

Progress Point #1

Over the past 10 years, widespread agreement has emerged that current environmental laws and policies are outdated and need updating.

Participants generally agreed that the time has come for the President and Congress to re-examine the structure, assumptions and approaches of our current environmental statutes. Among areas of agreement included: the need to update statutes to reflect today’s environmental realities and new solutions, the importance of integrating statutory responsibilities of EPA (possibly through an organic statute to authorize EPA), and the need to integrate and coordinate environmental statutes to reflect the inter-related aspect of environmental issues. Most participants, if not all, supported performance management as the foundation of any rewrite of environmental statutes—providing a potentially valuable starting point of agreement in any rewrite effort.

"I think that the challenge for EPA is that we are somewhat limited by our statutes and some environmental problems, climate change, habitat, set of problems need to be considered if we are going to be the Environmental Protection Agency."

"EPA was set up as a pollution control agency and that is where we started, and it was about scrubbers and building drinking water treatment and waste water treatment and the new game isn’t about that, it is about pollution prevention, it is about sustainability, it is a different set of goals, designing environment in, rather than trying to control it at the back end."

Progress Point #2

The EPA has increased its openness to dialogue with various stakeholder groups.

The EPA was praised for making progress over the past 10 years to reach out to various stakeholder groups to educate them, solicit feedback from them, and seek buy-in and agreement on policies and approaches to improving the environment. Stakeholder groups include businesses, state and local governments, environmental interest groups, and other interested parties. Participants noted that while efforts to involve stakeholders have been uneven and substantial progress can and should continue to be made on this front, EPA’s culture overall seems to be more inclusive of stakeholder views and dialogue, with state and local relations improving markedly.

"EPA, I think has tried to work more with local governments than they have in the past. There’s more delegation down from EPA to state agencies, and the recognition that a lot of (environmental protection) happens at the local level. I think that there has been some dialogue and there needs to be a lot more about the federal-state-local government relationship and how that happens, with mayors, with cities, with counties, with county commissioners."

"I think that it could be stated, and the work we have done around the country comparing now with 5 years ago, when we walked into a state and asked them what their barriers were to do their work, one of the first ones at the top was those stupid people at EPA, they don’t take us seriously, we are not partners, they are still treating us as children, and we don’t hear that anymore, so even in those less progressive regions, and region one, I mean we are hearing everywhere that the EPA, both HQ and the regional office are treating states as true partners."

Progress Point #3

Some progress has occurred in the development of environmental performance indicators, strategic planning, and goal-oriented budgeting at EPA.

Participants praised the EPA for its efforts to develop a strategic plan, identify environmental performance indicators, link resources to results, and address data quality issues in environmental performance measurement. In addition, participants saw progress in the development of performance-oriented arrangements between EPA and the states under the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS). In the past ten years, the EPA has examined its budget structure to better align resources with strategic goals of the agency, as well as identify the various kinds of performance measurements that are being used presently to gauge environmental progress and collect quality environmental data.

"The Office of Environmental Information was a great step and is now attacking some of the long standing problems having to do with data incompatibility, accuracy, data gaps, and we would like to encourage the agency to continue along those lines."

"Over the last ten years we have seen EPA begin to use the language of outcome-based management and the language of performance-based measurement, talking about results. I think that it is an important first step; as a sub-observation of that, there are pockets of EPA that are using the outcomes information to manage."

"We are one of the few agencies to restructure our budget to match that of our GPRA goals and objectives. The Appropriators have mostly been unhappy because it makes their life tougher. We thought it was the right thing to do and we made a lot of crosswalks, but no doubt it made it a lot tougher for them to do their job in the timeframes they had. There are also a couple of benefits to strategically aligning the budget. First it brings together four budget and planning discussions to people at the same time. Also it is just neater and cleaner: you know exactly what is in the budget and you can see how those increases would cut the rest of the budget."

Progress Point #4

The EPA has achieved some progress in its use of risk-based decision making.

Risk-based decision making was a central point of discussion across the entire session, with most comments focusing on shortcomings. Nevertheless, participants did agree that the EPA has made progress on several issues that are critical to improving risk analysis at the agency.

"Since 1995 ORD has substantially upgraded its graduate study and post doctoral study and appointments and it has just recently received praise from the National Academy of Sciences on that effort to bring in some new blood and new scientists."

Progress Point #5

Expanded focus on public health and economic and health impacts of environmental protection.

Several participants noted that the EPA has made progress in focusing on and communicating the ultimate benefits and impacts of a cleaner environment, particularly in the area of human health and economic impact.

"One progress area is the identification to the public of the economic benefits of environmental protection, the cost to a community of a beach closure for so many days of a season, and things like that which were never really identified and calculated."

Progress Point #6

Within EPA, a noticeable culture change has begun over the past 10 years that is performance-oriented and innovation-centered.

Participants agreed that reinventing government efforts at EPA have had an impact on the internal culture of agency staff. Initiatives such as Project XL are starting to bring new approaches into the agency that emphasize results and flexibility.

"One progress point would be in the general re-invention area, growing and giving birth to this new culture of an acceptance to innovation, taking the first steps, certainly there is a core there that is infecting the rest of the agency with that idea of reinvention."

Progress Point #7

EPA has enhanced its financial management practices.

Participants noted that EPA has attempted to improve its financial management systems, from the manner in which it administers grants to the development of a financial statement. In fact, EPA received its first clean audit opinion in 1998 and has made progress in the prompt payment of contractors and grantees.

Progress Point #8

In the last decade delegate of federal environmental responsibilities to the States has created shared regulatory and enforcement opportunities.

Participants noted a definite shift occurring in environmental protection towards the states. The idea of involving states in decision making and shifting program implementation to the states is much more popular and accepted today than ten years ago. EPA was praised for its enhanced awareness of environmental consequences at all levels of government and a conscious effort to shift implementation activities to the states.

"I think that increasingly the tendency is to push EPA administered programs outside the agency, so I guess I would say the transformation about programs, actually pushing them outside the agency, is a progress point."

"EPA has tried to work more with local governments than they have in the past, the delegation down from EPA to state agencies, and then the recognition that a lot of this happens at the local level."

Section Two:

Challenges and Areas for Improvement

"There isn’t an accountability on how we actually manage and operate on a day to day basis, and whether or not we are implementing the strategic plan in our day to day operations, and that is a metaphor for all of these areas, whether it is innovation, or information management improvements of needing managers who day to day push down, push out of the experimentation and into the day to day operations."

"We need to make EPA actions accountable to performance. The goal is to accomplish improvements in the environment, so all of our actions, efforts, and spending must be directed towards environmental achievement—that means strategic and prioritized operations, not just planning, development and use of performance measures, use of information to target efforts, regulatory and enforcement efforts strategic targeting."

 

What challenges remain to be addressed before additional progress can be made at the U.S. EPA?

 

Challenge Point #1

Effective management and optimal performance of many EPA programs is hampered by outdated statutes and a lack of "legal room" needed for innovation.

Participants cited the need for upgrading and updating environmental statutes as a major challenge that the EPA has failed to effectively address over the past 10 years. In many cases, innovative solutions for protecting the environment have been precluded by a lack of flexibility within existing statutes. If the nation is to see the next generation of environmental improvement, the challenge of changing old environmental statutes must be addressed.

"The biggest challenge for EPA, and for environmental protection in general, for the next Administration, and for the next EPA administrator is to look at how can we change our statutory structure that is hindering us. There are a lot of good things that have been suggested as changes within EPA, but frankly, in terms of a real movement towards prevention-based multimedia types of protection, the only way we can really do that is to change the statutory structure. There is no other way."

The biggest challenge for the next EPA Administrator, and for Congress and the environmental groups that are entrenched in the old system, is to really look at the statutes and say how can we link them together, how can we make them prevention- and cleaner production-focused. It is not incremental like a lot of things that we are talking about."

Challenge Point #2

Even absent statutory changes, the EPA could and should have shown more leadership to upgrade and innovate environmental protection.

While conceding that EPA is constrained by statutes that are outdated in some instances, participants felt that the EPA could have shown more leadership in using the "legal room" that does exist within the statutes to experiment and trade flexibility for results. Several areas were mentioned, including: creating cross-media strategies, granting states and localities more authority to implement environmental programs, exploring incentives and "hold harmless" arrangements for businesses and individuals that take risks to improve the environment, promoting new technologies and approaches to reducing pollution, etc.

"While changing the organizational statutes is really something that needs to be done, I am not willing to let EPA off the hook by saying that the statutes are the only problem, because our government has a history of solving these kinds of problems—there is widespread use of matrix management techniques in agencies like the DOE. We can do that in EPA; you can create cross media approaches within existing statutes, it is just a question of whether or not you want to do it."

"There is another dimension here. We keep talking about political space, legal space, you have to have room for investment space. You are going to ask real companies and businesses to give money to get these things done. The fact is that there is no trust between the business community and EPA. We have a number of situations where they have said ‘Come do this, we will work with you.’ We say ‘Can you protect us from the evils from without?’ And they say ‘No, we can’t quite do that, because the statutes need to be changed or whatever.’ So the fact is that one of the impediments is that the new EPA Administrator has to act like business is an ally, because you are going to have to step up and ask people to make real investments."

Challenge Point #3

The EPA needs to assess its internal program structures to examine ways to better integrate environmental protection efforts across media.

Participants felt that the EPA has not done a sufficient job in addressing the long-standing challenges posed by its internal "silo-based" program structure. Synergies in environmental protection can be created when environmental issues are dealt with in an integrative fashion. Instead, the current fragmented program structure gives rise to inconsistencies and conflicts in environmental protection efforts, causes too much confusion, and prevents effective collaboration for results. Several participants felt that EPA management could do more to integrate the activities of its programs but has failed to do so.

"When I fault EPA from looking at it from a management standpoint I’m looking at the organization. If it is truly functioning strategically, you are going to see changes in structure, changes in program content and focus, changes in work processes, changes in the types of programs that they have and the types of products that they deliver. When I look at EPA I don’t see those kinds of changes because of the management approach that they are taking: the way that they are organized around media."

Challenge Point #4

The EPA’s policies and approaches for examining and making decisions based on risk have been uneven at best.

Participants found numerous shortcomings and problems with the way the EPA has conducted risk analysis and used risk in decisions over the past 10 years. Participants noted a lack of clear guidance on how risk analysis should be conducted within the agency and felt the EPA needed to establish and use clearer guidelines for risk-based decision making. Taking a different angle on the topic, some participants complained that the existing EPA policies on risk had not been consistently applied within the agency; in some cases, the policies were ignored. Finally, participants noted the technical challenges of improving analysis of risks in environmental decision making, ranging from lack of data to lack of consensus on the implications of various data.

"On risk based decisions I think that there needs to be more guidance on what this is, and the factors involved in it. A lot of times certain risk criteria terms are used and then there is no guidance on the quality or the nature of the data needed to support it, so you end up in this game of back and forth between the regulated and the regulator and often there isn’t a supporting policy that says you can consider these, or you can add considerable weight to these particular factors, etc."

"Basically we don’t have the data to do any kind of risk assessment. You need two things: you need toxicity data and you need exposure data, and we don’t have either one in either one in anywhere approaching the quantity or the quality that we need to really do risk based decision making."

"Risk-based decision making means different things to different people. EPA has had plenty of opportunity to produce exposure data but has systematically refused to do so, and relies on models of exposure instead, even when those models generate outlandish results, so a practical suggestion would be to re-orient some of the data collection to actual exposure. But that speaks directly to the question of what we think is risk-based decision making, and risk-based decision making has historically been hazard-based decision making, not risk-based. The distinction there is that exposure components are largely excluded and it is essentially a hazard-based assessment process."

"I think that the disparity from office to office and program to program within EPA with the application of the risk-based decision making continues to be a problem and it comes up when you have, as we increasingly will, cross media or cross programmatic types of decisions."

"It is has been my experience in observing EPA over the past few years that they have conducted their risk assessments using a certain model and did not like the results, and just switched to a different model to get results that matched the decision that they had already made so I think that the decision making as far as risk assessments is concerned are politicized and they are made before the science and research actually takes place."

Challenge Point #5

The EPA faces significant challenges in managing the development and analysis of environmental science, as well as using science to inform its decision making.

Participants observed the significant challenges surrounding the development and use of environmental science. Some felt that the issue of sound science would never be effectively resolved; that ultimately politics determines which policies are developed and implemented. Sound science can help inform politics, but ultimately policy decisions are and will remain political. Others felt that the development and analysis of environmental science is too great a challenge for EPA to address as long as it plays the role of regulator and that science should be removed from the jurisdiction of the agency entirely.

"Most regulations and regulatory decisions are science- or technology-informed, but are ultimately policy calls. To pretend otherwise gets us into this debate of whether they are using good science or not or which scientists they are using and I think a good challenge for EPA is to know when to stand up and say this is a policy call, we have a base of science and technology information that we are calling upon, but it is a policy call and if anyone thinks that it is something else then the policy is something that Congress needs to deal with."

"There is an injection of methodological error into their work at a very high level of sophistication, and this problem arises because the analysts are not separate from the programs to which they report, they are fundamentally tied, they are Siamese twins if you will, and because of that they have become, not analysts of regulatory programs and budget programs, but they have become advocates."

"Politics has contaminated the science that drives the risk and there is a basic conflict between an agency that has an aggressive regulating agenda and dictating what science ought to be put into play."

Challenge Point #6

The EPA lacks adequate environmental performance measures, has not addressed critical data shortcomings, and has not sufficiently mapped the strategic linkages between its programs and ultimate improvements in the nation’s environment.

Participants agreed that the EPA has yet to develop an acceptable set of outcome-oriented performance measurements to use in assessing the state of the nation’s environment—let alone in tracking the actual results of its programs. Numerous shortcomings have been identified in the data systems that generate environmental information and the EPA has been slow to tackle these issues until very recently. In addition, there are few common measures being used across the nation to track the state of the environment. Several participants noted how each state has developed different performance measurements and collects data using different methodologies.

Finally, in several other government mission areas, agencies have developed "logic models" with their stakeholders that map national strategy for meeting various goals and link those models to specific outcome and intermediate-outcome measures of performance. Participants felt that the EPA has yet to initiate this kind of effort with its stakeholders—a critical challenge that must be addressed if meaningful performance measurements are to be devised.

"A challenge that the agency continues to struggle with and we all continue to struggle with, is actually using performance information to make decisions, or setting up forums to talk about outcome-based information. Nobody is actually collecting the information, sitting down with it and saying what is this telling us about the environment."

"We see a lot of hopping around against measures and a lot of hopping around against measurement methodologies and we really need to settle on some of these things and hold them still for a while and do the hard work of monitoring."

"Just understanding the fullness of the information gaps: if one wants to move in to a performance directed focus, there are substantial information gaps."

"We have to de-politicize the data that is used to assess performance and it has to include the states. Either the water is getting better or it is not…and somebody earlier talked about an environmental data entity, but in essence that data has to be consistent and everybody has to have access to it, and then you argue over the interpretation."

Challenge Point #7

Differences among the EPA regional offices, as well as change-resistant culture in some regions, have presented management challenges at the EPA.

Participants caution the next Administrator to examine the structure and unique cultural identities of each specific EPA regional office. The culture of each EPA region can present management challenges to the agency as it attempts to balance effective management of a national environmental system, tailor its approaches to the unique needs of each region, and manage change and innovation in environmental protection.

"One of the things about EPA is, in terms of its management, there are 10 regions, they each have their own culture. It is hard to compare Region 1 in the northeast with Region 6 or Region 7 or Region 9 or 10. So I think that some regions were chomping at the bit to do things differently and others were happy doing the things they were."

"I think that one of the big challenges remaining to the NEPPS system is that the role of the regions needs to be re-thought, and re-considered. We used to have a regional office at headquarters to make sure that the regions had a voice in Washington. We probably now ought to have that office to make sure that the assistant administrators have a voice. It is too much of the tail wagging the dog and the regions have become an impediment in the relationships between the states and the agency."

Challenge Point #8

The EPA could do more to grant states and localities flexibilities to improve environmental outcomes, particularly through the NEPPS system.

While participants praised the EPA for expanding the dialogue with state and localities and treating them more as partners, there were clear calls for the EPA to transfer additional program management responsibilities to states and localities. NEPPS was praised as a legitimate vehicle for devolution, but EPA was criticized for not effectively using NEPPS to the maximum extent it could to truly provide states and localities with flexibility and program management responsibilities.

"One of the things that EPA needs to do in order to effectuate NEPPS is to get out of the sort of dual system that is in place right now where they sort of toy around the edges with NEPPS and yet they leave in place the former framework, so there are tons of checks and balances that are not the contractual arrangement that NEPPS is supposed to be. So EPA needs to sort of move out of the old framework and into the new."

"I would urge in that process EPA to delegate process, delegate the programs to the states. I don’t mean you forfeit all of your oversight responsibilities, but you stay out of as much of that as you can and you let the states manage the program. Our experience has been the programs worked best in that kind of situation."

 

Challenge Point #9

The EPA needs to engage in a process to clarify roles and responsibilities in environmental protection efforts of the various segments of society and levels of government.

Consistent with the observations made in the last challenge area dealing with state and local authority, participants felt that the entire positioning of roles and responsibilities for "who does what" in environmental protection was too murky.

"What one fundamentally needs is greater role clarification, but that is not simply between EPA and the states, or EPA and the regions, it is indeed among all of the players, EPA, its regional offices, the states, its localities and those various entities themselves. So really I think that role clarification among all of the relevant decision makers and managers is really a challenge."

"The problem is one of roles. We talked earlier about EPA; when it was set up, it was the lead actor in many environmental decisions. Increasingly, the role is much beyond states; it’s states, local governments, it’s the private sector, it’s companies and communities, and lastly it’s individuals in the choices that they make, so there is a whole shift of roles in the challenge for the agency is to help make that transition where all parts of society are playing a larger role in environmental protection.

Challenge Point #10

The EPA needs to improve its personnel management system to provide clearer measures of performance and better incentives and training for its employees.

Participants discussed the need to drive innovation and change down to the individual employee level within EPA if true change in culture is to occur. Specific concerns raised included the use of enforcement-oriented goals for individuals rather than outcome-oriented measures. In addition, training and development and effective human capital planning are areas that EPA must address if it is to cultivate an effective workforce for the future.

"I believe that as long as EPA’s personnel management system rewards employees based on the number of enforcement actions filed, you will never resolve this issue because enforcement employees are measured. It is evaluated every year, the agency statistics come out, you are comparing last year’s enforcement numbers with the current year’s enforcement numbers, and until that fundamental approach on the individual evaluation and rewards system is evaluated and overhauled, you won’t get true delegation of programs because someone is always going to be looking for where can we get our next enforcement case, because that is their job and that is how they are evaluated."

Challenge Point #11

Political relations with Congress and stakeholder groups needs to improve.

While progress has been made in some aspects of stakeholder and Congressional relations, participants felt that a number of challenges are still presented by the EPA’s inability over the last 10 years to improve its dialogue with stakeholder groups and Members of Congress. Some participants felt that EPA treated some stakeholders differently than others and that its dialogue with those outside the agency was filled entirely too much with distrust and defensiveness. Recognizing that this issue is not the EPA’s alone to solve, participants called for improved dialogue among all parties in the environmental debate. Finally, the fragmented committee structure that the EPA faces on Capitol Hill was also cited as a key challenge.

"The relationship with Congress needs to be improved. In spite of the inherent tensions that exist between the legislative and the executive branch, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of improvement in relationships between Congress and EPA."

"It is a challenge that the administrator can not do anything about, necessarily, but needs to note, and that is the splintered oversight of the agency performed by Congress, and the division of environmental oversight responsibilities of, I don’t know, you fill in the blank 60 or 70 different committees or sub-committees."

Section Three:

Recommendations and Next Steps

"It is really a matter of the EPA in the next Administration understanding how it would go about using more of a license that Congress might grant—not to work outside, not to very carefully pick and choose how it is going to proceed with experimentation, but that it be focused on many of these areas that we have been talking about."

"Decide quickly on whether or not to reorganize the agency and do it before confirmation, and if you decide you are going to reorganize then get it started quickly with support from the President, the Vice President and key members of Congress, and do it fast, otherwise if you decide to do it later you will get bogged down until the next election."

What action items and next steps do you recommend to the next Administration and Congress to improve the management and performance of EPA programs?

Recommendation Theme #1

Begin a bipartisan process to comprehensively upgrade and update the nation’s environmental protection statutes (possibly by naming a bipartisan commission to develop model legislation).

"Come in and start a committed focus to re-evaluate restructuring our statutory framework, not to just build up new programs, but to look at dismantling dinosaur ones. Really look and see how we can be more multi-media, more prevention-based. Start an effort that would take many years that really looks at re-designing our statutes, because not only are the feds acting based on the over-arching umbrella, but so are the states and the locals."

"I would recommend that Congress, the President, with input from the governors, convene a Commission or some sort of Congress to draft a statute to integrate all of the environmental statutes. I just think that needs to be done, whether or not we can sell it at the end of the process is a different issue, but somebody needs to draft it."

"Congress needs to begin the process of re-authorizing the major environmental statutes, many of which are substantially out of date, and needs to begin the process of establishing statutory basis for the EPA."

 

Recommendation Theme #2

Even in the absence of comprehensive statutory revisions, the EPA should look for ways to create "legal space" within existing statutes to promote innovation and results.

"The agency needs to, in terms of organization and structure, identify the transitional legal space and the organization management options that will clarify interagency roles, spark performance-focused innovation by federal, state, regional and private sector actors, and enhance its capacity for optimizing across multiple cross-media goals rather than this silo approach."

"Recognize that external forces are there, that politics are a reality.. On the one hand, clearly one needs some sort of internal sense of what kinds of transitional legal spaces might be required, one needs to know that. Build a coalition-building endeavor around creating that transitional legal space. Create a communications strategy to help build support for where you need to go. Link that to any court and enforcement strategy and so forth. There are things that one can do internally and not withstanding those external forces. State regulators face those same constraints: they have external forces and so on, and yet some of them have managed not simply to innovate in a piecemeal fashion, but to actually burst out those innovations in a more fully embodied sense within their organizations."

Recommendation Theme #3

Performance-based Environmentalism: Immediately begin a process to identify truly outcome-oriented performance measurements to track environmental improvements and improve and standardize environmental data systems in partnership with the states and localities.

"EPA should sponsor and convene or support a series of dialogues, first of all within its own agency. New administrators should ask the senior management, with the program level to say that in the course of six months or nine months you ought to be able to tell me the state of the environment for your program area. You need to collect that information and be able to report it, then we are going to sit down and talk about it."

"Focus first on the need to build on the efforts of an environmental data system and make it a coordinated and effective information system with the states, who generate most of the data."

"Nobody really is figuring out if our water or air is cleaner, whether public health has improved, etc., because if you picked out a few of the outcome measures and that is how you judged performance, you would get away from the bean counting aspect of whether or not there are enough cases being brought. I mean you really should be measuring it on whether there are more fish in the river."

"Under the aegis of the White House, a very high-ranking commission should be convened to explore specifically environmental performance management and results, and that it be a very short, 6 month type of commission that makes recommendations about where the impediments are, how to achieve the goals of many of the things that we have talked about today. You would involve very high-ranking Members of Congress to get those political views brought in, state and local government leaders and NGO’s seeking consensus on whatever you can reach consensus on that issue."

Recommendation Theme #4

Performance-based Environmentalism: Establish performance measures that track strategic logic for environmental protection from end outcomes to intermediate outcomes.

"Taking a page from Florida and Florida’s environmental performance indicators, they have multiple different sets of indicators. One is a set of environmental performance indicators, the other is a set of behavioral measures. But rather than the old style bean counting of how many enforcement actions did they do, on the behavioral front they look at did those enforcement actions yield real environmental performance improvements, either in harm reductions or environmental quality improvements in some way. Secondly, to what degree do the actions that we are taking actually inspire a nation of self-motivated stewards, to what degree are we facilitating investments in pollution prevention, how much are they engaging in that? Third, they have a set of measures that deal with agency effectiveness—that is, to what degree do the actions that we are taking actually result in better performance indicators and/or better behavior?

Recommendation Theme #5

Performance-based Environmentalism: Dialogue with Congress and stakehodlers on what performance measures they agree with; use performance information as the basis of stakeholder dialogue on the environment.

"It’s not just trusting EPA to use the right measures, it is coming to an agreement among the various parties about how those measures are going to be used."

"Carol Browner announced that she was going to try to get away from bean counting and that she was not going to keep track of enforcement statistics or at least not use it as a key measure. And she got clobbered by the Hill, by the environmental community, and it was politically untenable that she took that position. So I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for performance-measured outcomes and systems that will do that, and getting away from bean counting, but it is probably not within the power of the agency to do that on its own."

"The EPA or the Administration should also ask all of the regional administrators to hold a series of regional dialogues on the state of the environment in each region and that should be convened with partners, stakeholders, NGO’s, states and on an annual basis there should be a forum to talk about the state of the environment, not just these annual reports that get thrown out there and then nothing happens. People need to start talking about the information."

Recommendation Theme #6

Performance-based Environmentalism: Use performance goals and measures as the basis for granting flexibility for results.

"Eventually you judge states on whether or not they are doing what they have to do. Give the states a little more freedom to do what they can in a bit more flexible of a system and you get away from this old system where you are treating them as an administrative arm of the federal government. For me the key is identifying what those priority outcomes are and then taking the leap and saying ‘OK, if we are getting the results that we want, let us let the states continue doing what they are doing.’"

Recommendation Theme #7

Performance-based Environmentalism: The Administrator should commit to a clear strategic management model early; revise and update the EPA strategic plan.

"We have talked a lot about results-based management, and in terms of the new Administrator, he or she is going to have to be honest and say are we going to really do information-based decision making …and laying out a strategic plan for outcome-based or results-based management and all of the supporting structures that you need to do that, and all of the information that you need to do that, and a timeline. You are not going to make outcome-based decisions a year from now, because a lot of the information that you need to do that does not exist, so there needs to be if you will a little bit of managing of expectations, and then a clear pathway of how you are going to get there."

"I would like to see EPA introduce the Results Act in a program oriented way that makes it relevant to the partners, stakeholders, regulating entities, and the community served. If the EPA has a strategic plan that doesn’t resonate at the local level it is worthless."

Recommendation Theme #8
Performance-based Environmentalism: Establish a performance-based personnel management system that emphasizes human capital planning.

"I would suggest that the EPA administrator work internally to overhaul the personnel system within the agency, primarily the rewards system, and re-write the performance criteria not just for senior managers, but all the way down the line where innovation is rewarded and made explicit as part of everyone’s job description."

"The personnel practices need to be revisited, we have mentioned the incentives structure, what rewards, what drives EPA employees to do good things, whether it is innovation or customer service, or whatever. Other suggestions: I think that the agency needs to provide other opportunities for professional development and promotion without going through the supervision chain necessarily. Revisit the supervisor/supervisee ratio. I sat as a deputy associate administrator and had 24 direct reports; I think that is not really a realistic expectation for a manager. Rotate managers, invest in training, increase the use of IPA’s."

"On human capital, the Administrator will have a workforce that is aging rapidly, an organizational that has been essentially the same for the last 30 years. It is a good time to take a look at the whole thing, making determinations on the number of people that are needed, the skills that are needed, and where this should be deployed."

Recommendation Theme #9

Improve the credibility of EPA science; evaluate the current policies governing the use of science at EPA and consider the appointment of a science czar.

"The Administrator is going to have to make some critical decisions about the place of science in the agency and specifically pick up on recommendations that have been made over several years now, that there be a science advisor—that the science presence in the agency be elevated substantially into a position of authority there. I think that the opportunity there lies early on in an Administration to set that tone and to start building on the credibility of EPA science because that is ultimately the foundation for everything that the agency is going to be doing from there on."

"I would suggest to the administrator that he or she ask Congress for the authority to appoint a chief scientist and follow the model that is used for naming a director for the US Geological Survey. It should be an appointment that transcends Administrators, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. EPA should have a chief scientist with considerable authority early in the agency decision-making processes to set a tone right from the outset that science is the underlying basis for the decision making."

Recommendation Theme #10

Consider the creation of an independent Bureau of Environmental Information and Statistics.

"About a Bureau of Environmental Statistics, I think that it is greatly overdue and if we combine that with the idea of the chief scientist, it will solve a lot of the problems and arguments."

"I remain dubious about the value of the Office of Information, I think that it is confusing matters more than helping them, and I think that something like the Bureau of Environmental Statistics patterned after the Bureau of Labor or Health Statistics is really more the kind of thing that is needed."

Recommendation Theme #11

Articulate a clear policy for risk-based decision making and offer comprehensive training to EPA staff on how to implement the policy.

"Lots of people don’t understand risk; it is not easy. The agency back in `89-`91 had some magnificent training on risk: there was a training course on risk assessment and risk communication. That training went to the wayside and again I think getting back to the idea of cultural change it could be very helpful to reintroduce that kind of training so that the people at EPA understand those concepts."

"Make a directive to make risk assessment an objective scientific process and to build on a suggestion earlier to enhance training in all offices for risk characterization and communication."

"If you are going to use risk-based decision making then there needs to be an identification of what our mission critical risks, they can be internal and managerial and may impact on how you allocate resources or they can be mission oriented. Whichever they are there needs to be a framework that allows you to asses also the gravity of the risk, and that needs to be weighed against the economic, the social, and the environmental consequences of doing something about that risk before you are in the position to make a wise decision."

"Risk characterization, assessment, analysis and management is not easy, it is highly complex, there is no easy way to do that, but the challenge is also whatever system of risk assessment that one has. One also has the challenge of communicating that to important stakeholders and constituents because they may not share the same knowledge base."

Recommendation Theme #12

Re-evaluate the regulatory process and peer review process at EPA.

"Take the initiative to go through a formal notice and comment process when it designs its methodology for regulatory analyses for major rules such that, well before a proposed or final rule is written that analysis actually gets done, and it is done in accordance with the best available techniques and data that can be mustered, thereby reducing conflict at the end of the process within the government, among stakeholders and within regulated parties and interest groups. Reconsider the peer review process that the agency has. The peer review process is designed for or uses a process that serves the wrong purpose. Peer reviewers are asked to opine as to what is correct, but they are equipped not with those tools but instead with tools that enable them to decide whether or not something is worth publishing. The peer review process book for science and economics is based on the wrong model."

Recommendation Theme #13

Examine organizational restructuring of EPA; consider strategies to promote cross-media program review and coordination as well as re-integration of enforcement back into each program area.

"I am sure that several of my counterparts know that the states would flog me if I didn’t mention it, and once again, it is my recommendation to see the re-integration of the enforcement programs into the media program management."

"Do a general cross-media program review and attach a review on each rule that comes out as to the cross-media implications and the cross-program implications. During that review ensure that new programs that have started in the last 3-5 years have authorization and are not duplicating or being inconsistent with existing programs."

We need to get better coordination between the regions, the HQ enforcement offices, and the program offices. All three have a bad habit of issuing conflicting program directives and guidance documents that needs to be better coordinated."

Recommendation Theme #14

Build the technical capacity of states and localities to effectively manage environmental protection.

"EPA could use the NEPPS system to provide incentives to the states to increase and enhance the technical capability of the local governments with respect to environmental management, through increased grants. A number of years ago we focused on what we called building state capacity. It has paid enormous state dividends: state environmental programs are much stronger now. We have sort of moved on to the second generation with NEPPS, if we could sort of use the NEPPS system to focus on enhancement of local government capabilities, and think creatively like use of interagency personnel assignments from EPA to local governments, and launch a major effort to build local government capacity, I think that would be a major improvement."

 

Recommendation Theme #15

Enhance efforts to improve coordination across federal agencies in environmental protection efforts.

"The Department of Energy next year will spend more money on environmental protection and cleanup than EPA does, I am relatively certain that DOD will spend more money, depending on how you divide and count it, I suspect that the Department of Interior will spend more money on that than EPA, so EPA is the 3rd or 4th or 5th agency in terms of dollars spent on environmental protection. So we need to note that one of the advantages of performance measures is not only so that you can look at states and see how they are doing, but so that you can look at all of these federal agencies and see how they are doing. And in my view, EPA needs to be the lead federal agency in federal compliance with environmental requirements. Now I know all about turf battles, having been in some myself, but someone in the federal government should be taking the lead for all of these activities to bring them into compliance with the requirements and I submit to you that that ought to be EPA, irrespective of what other agency is involved."

"Probably every federal agency at this point has some significant role in environmental protection. That is something that has been a concerted effort that has been reflected over the past several years. The question is: does that continue? And to the extent that it does continue, how do you begin to try to coordinate those kinds of things so that you have a cohesive effective environmental strategy."

Recommendation Theme #16

The EPA should examine the balance between internal financial controls and customer service in its grants and contracts management processes.

"There needs to be a better balance in the contracts and grants function between protection of the agency or the government’s fiduciary relationship and customer service to the agencies programs and partners like the states. The pendulum seems to far one way or the other. A number of years ago we probably swung too far towards customer service, getting the contracts awarded and getting the grants out the door. In recent years, because of criticism from the Hill and GAO and from the Inspector General, the pendulum swung too far the other way in protection of the government’s fiduciary responsibility, and now we have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" to get the contracts awarded and the grants out the door. So we need to bring the pendulum back to balance between the protection of judiciary responsibility and customer service."

Recommendation Theme #17

Clarify the roles of the various actors in efforts to protect the environment; shift the role of program implementation to the states and localities.

"Convene a task force that is heavily weighted towards state and local governments as well as internal resources to redefine the roles and responsibilities of the EPA regions and make an alignment based on the recommendations of that study."

"EPA should clarify the roles of the various environmental regulatory bodies and in doing so, give the regions and the states the flexibility that they need to be innovative, which will allow them to provide what the business as an industry needs: they want certainty and they want consistency in environmental protection."

About the interaction and the partnership with the states, the EPA seems a little reluctant… they seem willing to grant administration to the states, but they seem very reluctant in a lot of their regulations to trust the states to take the responsibility for a lot of the aspects of the program, and states should have a little bit better ability to implement the programs with the specific considerations of their states and the priorities of their states in mind rather than having EPA try to think of all of the potential outcomes or places where the states could screw it up. States have plenty of incentives to do it right, let them take that opportunity to do it."

Recommendation Theme #18

Consider Integrating the Management and Information Functions into a Single Office within EPA.

"The mistake made by the Clinton Administration is erosion of the management and the policy functions. We now have ORM, we now have the Chief Financial Officer, we now have the Office of Environmental Information, and we have the Office of Policy Reinvention. They all need to be united into a mini OMB within EPA, and in doing so significantly enhance the capability of independent economic analysis."

APPENDIX

TRANSCRIPT

Transition Dialogue Series: US EPA Session

October 11, 2000

 

SECTION ONE

What progress has been made over the past 10 years to improve the management and performance of programs at the U.S. EPA?

Participant: I had this discussion the other day, trying to figure out what that could be and we found that it wasn’t very hard at all to find some successes, so I will be fairly brief. I think that the EPA has done a lot better job of using risk based decision processes; you can point to two or three examples of that: the risk characterization policy, the cancer guidelines, assuming they get filed sometime, they are peer review guidelines among other things that we think that they have done an excellent job of putting into place and getting out there.

Participant: I think that one of the things that EPA has worked very hard on for the past 8 or 9 years is the National Environmental Performance Partnership System, sort of solidifying the relationship between EPA and the state environmental agencies, there is still a lot of work to do yet but I think that it has come a long way.

Participant: I think that one of the major changes that has taken place over the past few years that has improved management at both the EPA and the National Environmental Protection Programs, is that about ¾ of the delegations to state agencies has taken place at this time, and at this point with states having to assume responsibility for more than 70% of the programs that can be delegated; with that much of it occurring during that time, and with establishment of the NEPPS program, and with the agreement on how to do rig innovation by signing an agreement between the states and EPA on how innovative ideas will be processed through the agency, all of that has laid the groundwork for an improved program and has resulted in our perspective in a number of improvements.

Participant: I think that EPA has done a much better job in the last 10 years of involving stakeholders in the dialogue, and discussion of formulating policy and regs, I will also say in the next discussion that they need to do more of it, but that is an improvement.

Participant: I want to mention three, several of which have already been put on the table. The first is in the area of data acquisition and dissemination, again a lot of room for improvement but if you look ten years ago and where we are now, substantially better information base from which to operate, whether one is looking at risk issues or just in general other environmental data reporting. Secondly to reaffirm what someone said in the area of intergovernmental relations, that is there are multiple players that manage environmental programs, and while there remain challenges, I think that in that delegation process there has been substantial progress in how that relationship is managed. I think also in terms of stakeholder involvement, all along the way, again substantial improvements.

Participant: Looking back at GAO and my job there at evaluating the agencies’ early efforts to implement the Results Act, I think that one of the things that we appreciated at that time was the EPA’s strategic planning effort. I want to work with the idea of working with the stakeholders and the litmus test that we applied at that time was not whether you took some sort of environmental impact statement approach, where you made up your mind, sent out a draft, got a bunch of comments, then made some innocuous changes, and then went on and did what you intended; but whether you actually did something different in response to the comments that you got from people working with stakeholders, and we found out that at that time EPA had. I mean they added new areas that they had not been thinking about. They developed reporting schemes for stuff that they had not previously thought important to report, and I think that those are pluses; I think that there is more to be done, but I think that those are things that EPA deserves to be recognized for.

Participant: Engaging in a discussion about performance-based systems like responsible care, EPA actually stepped up and came to chemical manufacturers association, now American Chemistry Council, at least expressing an interest in trying to understand how those systems might work, performance-based systems like responsible care.

Participant: A couple of comments have been made about risk-based decisions and the use of data analysis and I add to that that the EPA has been wonderful in its attention to building up its internal evaluation capacity, which is remarkable at this time.

Participant: Building on a couple of the last few comments, I guess two points, first over the last ten years we have seen EPA begin to use the language of outcome-based management and the language of performance-based measurement, talking about results. But I think that it is an important first step, as a sub-observation of that, there are pockets of EPA that are using the outcomes information to manage. My experience is more in the regions where you have occasional regional managers telling his or her senior managers that they want to see the results in terms of the environmental changes of your programs; again not that you will be held accountable for those, but you better be able to tell me whether or not the environment is getting better in the air, water and land.

Moderator: So it is not a system or a policy, it is just an individual taking a leadership role and saying that this is important; I want you to report to me on this.

Participant: Correct, and I don’t have the specifics from the HQ but I have heard some of the same stories, but it is not systemic, there are places where people are starting to do this.

Participant: We also see places where a lot of improvement is being made in the agency trying to move to a more outcome-oriented type of approach, and linked to that there tends to develop better information. I think that the Office of Environmental Information was a great step and is now attacking some of the long standing problems having to do with data incompatibility, accuracy, data gaps, and we like to encourage the agency to continue along those lines. We have also been very critical through the years of the superfund program, and the controls of the superfund program, and we think that the agency has addressed most of those problems and right now we are considering removing that program from our high-risk listing.

Participant: I think that over the last ten years the thing that I find noticeable is the willingness to explore marketing incentives to accomplish the goals that people are talking about. I don’t think that it is a panacea but it certainly is something that is applicable and ought to be tried and maybe give a lot of credit for moving those programs forward.

Participant: Same point, exactly, I would have phrased it more in the earlier language about adopting the language of market incentives, but willingness to explore is probably the upper boundary of the issue.

Participant: Identification to the public of the economic benefits of environmental protection, the cost to a community of a beach closure for so many days of a season, and things like that which were never really identified and calculated.

Participant: I’d contribute a few points, one would be in the general re-invention area, growing and giving birth to this new culture of in acceptance of innovation, taking the first steps; certainly there is a core there that is infecting the rest of the agency with that idea of reinvention. Certainly the goals that we were talking about, the performance measures having the broad agency organized and strategically planned under environmental goals and that is an organizing factor. And under information management realizing the current shortcomings of the system that they have now, and realizing the gaps, realizing that there are quality issues and beginning to take steps to address these information management issues.

Participant: On a similar level, I would group it under a different category and that is the cultural movement to innovative programs, Project XL, CSI, Brownfields, etc., those are all moving in the right direction, but I think that we still have a long way to go. Another area where I think that there has been a lot of improvement is in the purity policy and the use of science, I am not sure I agree too much with the other improvements, but we can talk about that later.

Participant: I don’t think that it is up here but it is the issue of EPA finally taking GPRA seriously, I think that their strategic plans have gotten much better over the years because you can at least understand where they are headed, so it is taking GPRA seriously.

Participant: I think again there are pockets that are recognizing that EPA does not produce environmental improvements; any mechanism that EPA uses is to try to change other people’s behavior, so looking at different tools of a way of doing that. I think that people are realizing that EPA doesn’t do it, they have to work through other people. So looking at a variety of ways that they can effect behavioral change, not just the standard ways that they have had previously.

Participant: I have been struggling because the question reads administered by EPA and I think that increasingly the tendency is to push them outside the agency, so I guess that I would say the transformation about programs, actually pushing them outside the agency. We mentioned the Superfund program as an example, but the Brownfields program, tackling the same problem is largely done outside the agency, or a second example, in the water program using watersheds as an organizing frame for water quality, again is being pushed outside the agency. I’m not sure that is responsive to administered by EPA because many of those efforts are outside.

Participant: One reform that we have made that most people would not be aware of because it is largely administrative, at least in appearance, is that we are one of the few agencies to restructure our budget to match that of our GPRA goals and objectives, so that if the administrator looks at the drinking water program, what she is looking at is not just the resources for setting the standards but also the resources for research for going into standard setting, for legal council and supporting the standards and defending them. The appropriators have mostly been unhappy because it makes their life tougher, I mean the staff that we work with on the appropriations committee know our budgets very well and they are highly skilled and we turned our budget structure on its head and they have a lot of work to do in a short period of time and we made it a lot tougher for them. There are also a couple of benefits to strategically aligning the budget, first it brings together four budget and planning discussions to people at the same time, so you are going to have the researchers, the attorneys, the implementers, that is a big help so that as you look at making a change in a programmatic budget you can also look at the effects that it may have on other parts of the agency, so getting the right people in the same room at the same time. Also it is just neater and cleaner; if we would like to invest more in food quality protection, you know exactly where it is in the budget and you can see how those increases would cut the rest of the budget.

Participant: I would just like to reinforce the comments about innovation and reinvention, because under your goals you mentioned, I think the last one was to look at the culture of the agency. I what I think has happened, and I would say that this culture of we really need to do things differently, and so a lot of the things that were mentioned, itemized above, would not have happened without that attempt to change the culture towards a more innovative management environment.

Moderator: Is this a bottom-up cultural change and shift towards results, or is it top-down, or is it just the natural meeting of both what the people at the regions think needs to be done as well as senior management saying this is our new direction, our focus on results?

Participant: I think it is more of the latter, I think more the folks in the regions because they are more on the firing line, and see the need for innovation and have welcomed the top-down message and said that it is welcome, and like any other change in a bureaucratic structure, a lot of the folks that are in the middle are the folks that are the most reluctant to change.

Moderator: So you would characterize the people at the regions as they were ready and willing to focus on innovation and they just needed the signal from leadership; that this is the direction that we will accept, this is the direction that HQ wants to go in?

Participant: I wouldn’t go that far, one of the things about EPA is, in terms of its management, there are 10 regions, they each have their own culture, it is hard to compare region 1 in the northeast with region 6 or region 7 or region 9 or 10. I think that some regions were chomping at the bit to do things differently and others were happy doing the things they were.

Participant: At least EPA has started to use some of the rhetoric of compliance assistance and understanding that there are multiple tools to use in trying to get to the goal of having people in compliance of environmental laws, as opposed to strict enforcement.

Participant: I would say creation of the new information office; that at least shows the acknowledgement agency-wide of the need to elevate the problems with information technology within the agency.

Participant: This is a procedural question, earlier you said that if we disagreed with things we should put it on the table, how do you want us to do that?

Moderator: The best way to bring it up is during our challenges section, and opportunities that remain: you know, someone said this is an area of progress, let me tell you how much longer we have to go before we are there. Other areas of progress or success that we should inform the next administration about, that these things should be continued.

Participant: It is imbedded in some of that, particularly the one about the NEPPS, but I think that it could be stated, and the work we have done around the country comparing now with 5 years ago, when we walked into a state and asked them what their barriers were to do their work; one of the first ones at the top was those stupid people at EPA, they don’t take us seriously, we are not partners, they are still treating us as children. We don’t hear that anymore, so even in those less progressive regions, and region one, I mean we are hearing everywhere that the EPA, both HQ and the regional office are treating states as true partners.

Participant: I think that you captured up there the compliance assistance as a component of the tools that EPA uses.

Moderator: I want to lay an area down; 1997, the development of EPA’s strategic plan, and David, you have been spearheading the most recent discussion of EPA strategy and strategic planning. You were I think involved in both the 1997 process and this process; what areas of progress have you seen in two respects: number one is sharpening a focus on strategy for environmental improvement, and the second part, clarifying more appropriate, results oriented performance measures, tied to that clarified strategy. Those two elements and then any other areas that you have observed.

Participant: I’ll take the second one first. There has been a lot more focus around the agency on performance measures. I think the greatest strides, which are really bearing through this year and next year, are in the Enforcement Office where they are looking beyond the traditional accounting of actions and looking more at the environmental results of their activities, which they have focused a lot of time and effort on, so it is probably going to pay off well. I think part of what happened is that people around the agencies saw that the GPRA was real we were going to be reporting to Congress and the public on how they performed and they looked at some of the measures that we put out there in the first fiscal year in which we had our first annual plan in place and were sort of embarrassed. It didn’t tell us very much about our improvements, so we are seeing some real steps forward there, not uniformly across the agency, but as somebody said, crabgrass, or better than crabgrass. Sharpening strategy, as well, I think the first plan, to be quite honest, I think there were a lot of programs where they just trajectory out five years; you know we are doing this work today, if we kept doing it for five years where would we be? And then put that number down. We are seeing much more careful looks now, more of a road map for getting from where we are today to five, six, seven, or eight years out, and being clearer internally with the public about what it is going to take to accomplish these things.

Moderator: Do you feel that in terms of your performance measures that progress has been made in truly outcome oriented measures that are bolstered by the whole set of intermediate outcome measures and programmatic measures? Has that logic chain been appropriately established for your programs?

Participant: No, it hasn’t, if it has for some programs, largely those that have benefited from it had a statutory structure that requires it or supports it. And part of it comes to information availability, it isn’t hard to think of good measures that would be nice to have, but building the monitoring structure, working with the states and locals to put those things in place, capture the data, report the data, it’s time and resource intensive.

Participant: Another thing, as I am listening to this discussion occurs to me, EPA has taken a real leadership role in disseminating ideas out to other constituents, whether it be, local agencies, state agencies. I am thinking about this in two ways. One, someone mentioned the recognition within EPA that it can not alone bring about environmental performance, that it has to leverage the activities of others, whether it is through changes in behavior of different participants or investment in resources and investments of others. I have worked most closely with the office of solid waste on several initiatives that they have had, whether it be their effort to really make local governments aware of the opportunities of things like variable rates and full cost accounting, and they have done that very well. They have played a leadership role in leveraging information and ideas and disseminating those outside of the agency to the entities that ultimately have to kind of grab a hold of those ideas and run with them. And I don’t think that that has really been captured in what we have said so far.

Participant: I was thinking something that I don’t think was up there and I didn’t know exactly how to capture it. EPA, I think has tried to work more with local governments then they have in the past, the delegation down from EPA to state agencies, and then recognition that a lot of this happens at the local level. I think that there has been some dialogue and there needs to be a lot more about that federal, state, local government relationship and how that happens, with mayors, with cities, with counties, with county commissioners; I think that the agency has put more effort into it’s local government advisory committee and reaching out and trying to hear from local governments.

Moderator: At the risk of going into to finite a detail on management issues, use of IT, grants management, contract management at EPA, human capital, any progress points in those more minute management issues?

Participant: One quick point, we did get a clean audit opinion on our financial statement for the first time in `98 and in `99 we had 2 technical issues that hung us up, so we did not get a clean opinion, they weren’t material to the audit, but we have seen great improvement in financial management as evidenced by the financial statement. Also we are largely in the lead in government in prompt payment of contractors, prompt payment of grantees, which I am sure the states like and in fact end up saving a lot of money in performance incentives under our grants and contracts programs, where we can turn the money back over to agency programs.

Participant: I just wanted to mention a highlight in terms of cooperation among the states and the EPA in information management is the joint partnership that has been created to try to create a new information exchange network, which is very helpful in a number of ways: getting us away from the idea that the only safe information is housed in a huge database somewhere in the bowls of EPA, but relying more on the efforts of the e-commerce revolution to create a system where information is collected and managed where it is most logical and best kept and accessible to anyone who needs it, whether it is state information that EPA needs to generate reports or to support its GPRA findings in reports to Congress, or the person down the street wants to figure out a little more about what that industrial facility is perhaps doing to the community. I have to say that from an ECOS perspective that relationship has been very constructive and open-minded as a matter of fact, we were joint appellants before the appropriations committees this year in support of funding to help that process to move that forward, so it is evidence of a very good process that we are working together with a very important result in mind and something that could be in the challenges section as well, is that needs to continue we need to make sure that the office of information and the program offices at EPA are in sync in this vision and make sure that the whole agency is moving in that direction.

Participant: The increased quality of the peer review in the science process at EPA has been mentioned, I think, but I would like to add to that a little, because more will need to be added to that in our challenges section of the dialogue about science of EPA, but since 1995, ORD has substantially upgraded its graduate study and post doctoral study and appointments and its just recently received praise from the National Academy of Sciences on that effort to bring in some new blood and new scientists and new ideas; I think that is something that should be acknowledged.

Participant: On the human capital front, the agency has a draft strategic plan for human resources, which we think includes most of the elements of a good plan and gives something to shoot for as it further develops.

Participant: Enforcement comes into the back end of the process. First there has been the birth of the criminal program of the agency, second there has been greater education of states and local officials about this whole problem, third there has been the development of various partnerships and task forces between the federal government and state and local officials, and fourth, there has been the use of a variety of tools as ways of aiding the states in this regard, laboratory resources and the like, to help the states and the local officials with their own programs.

Participant: I think EPA’s website, obviously in the last ten years, you know nobody had a website, but EPA’s is one of the most user friendly and easy to get valuable information of any in the government.

SECTION TWO

What challenges remain to be addressed before additional progress can be made at the U.S. EPA?

Moderator: Even though they had some issues recently with other parts of that website, are there any other areas of progress before we transition into the next question? All right, moving into the next question and I know that there is probably not going to be a lot of discussion on this one.

Participant: Carl, let me suggest a process, everyone is spring-loaded to give you the "yes, but…"; what you may want to do is copy that first file, open it up so that people can give you comments against the first 33, before you start adding new ones, because you are going to have a difficult time doing your cross tabs.

Moderator: I think that is a good idea, lets go back up to the top, grab the entire section, sort of like a typical GAO report, you stamp it progress made, comma, more needs to be done. Lets start out with the first one. Using risk-based decision processes. What are the challenges or opportunities that remain there?

Participant: Since I brought it up I’ll put the counter side on that. It is not always used, and we see some decisions that completely defy that process so there needs to be a lot more of that, and it needs to be more uniform.

Participant: Keeping with the environmental motif, I’ll call it an endangered species.

Participant: I just disagreed with the initial statement. I think basically the opposite of a science-based system is a system where a lot of political or policy components come into the assessment process. I think that has increased over the decade. There is children’s health protection—their entire job is to send out memos saying, "Hey you ought to add a safety factor of ten." I don’t really think that the people in the agency really understand the nature and magnitude of the risks that are involved. Somebody mentioned the cancer guidelines, only one or two things have been operated under the cancer guidelines and then the one opportunity that the agency had, which was under chloroform to actually do something different, utilizing the cancer guidelines instead of just using the linear cancer model, they backed off of that politically. They got slapped by a court for doing that, so I just don’t see progress in that area, but I think that it is in two sections: one is to make the risk assessment system scientifically objective, and the second and equally important is to make sure decision makers, when they make shop, understand the nature and magnitude of the risk that was presented from another shop. The people who do superfund risk assessments, they have no idea what the people who did the toxicology components did. Each one of them thinks that they invented safety factors for the first time, and they have just been added together and added together and I really don’t think that people at the agency—and I have asked the question often—what is this risk, how is it compared to something? Very rarely do I get an answer that makes any sense with respect to the science. So I think that it is an area where I believe that there is at least a great deal of challenge, and I actually just don’t think that a great deal of progress has been made in the decade.

Participant: On risk-based decisions, I think that there needs to be more guidance on what this is, and the factors involved in it. A lot of times certain risk criteria terms are used and then there is no guidance on the quality or the nature of the data needed to support it, so you end up in this game of back and forth between the regulated and the regulator and often there isn’t a supporting policy that says you can consider these or you can add considerable weight to these particular factors; so that goes back to the original comment, I think that another thing it is a risk issue and it is also a management planning issue. We don’t do enough real world testing at sites. You have to come up with an awful lot of data to make a convincing case to go outside of the regular process, what is now the risk-based decision making. So a lot of times there isn’t clean up for a long period of time and there is risk laying foul there, if we had some real world testing of new technology at, for example soil sites is what I am thinking of, then we could generate the data that we need to improve risk-based decisions.

Participant: In some ways this is a generalization of the last comment made, but basically we don’t have the data to do any kind of risk assessment. You need two things; you need toxicity data and you need exposure data, and we don’t have either one in anywhere approaching the quantity or the quality that we need to really do risk-based decision making.

Moderator: What would be the…without getting too much into recommendations, what are some of the challenges that we ought to overcome if we are to have better data?

Participant: We have got to do more testing, and the industry as a whole has been fairly responsive over the years. There are some programs in place to do some more testing, but a lot more needs to be done, whether you need the toxic substances act to do that, not clear, but you ought to try. On the exposure information that gets into the whole question of monitoring data and data about the natural environment, which is a somewhat separable topic; but I remain dubious about the value of the Office of Information. I think that it is confusing matters more than helping them, and I think that something like the Bureau of Environmental Statistics, patterned after the Bureau of Labor or Health Statistics is really more the kind of thing that is needed.

Participant: On other points in this list, people have commented that the language of the rhetoric of the topic at hand has intensified, but not the substance. I think that is what we have in this case. Risk-based decision making means different things to different people, and following up on a previous comment, EPA has had plenty of opportunity to produce exposure data but has systematically refused to do so, and relies on models of exposure instead, even when those models generate outlandish results. So a practical suggestion would be to re-orient some of the data collection to actual exposure, but that speaks directly to the question of what we think is risk-based decision making, and risk-based decision making has historically been hazard-based decision making, not risk-based. The distinction there is that exposure components are largely excluded and it is essentially a hazard-based assessment process.

Moderator: Other areas for progress in the area of risk use of risk in decision-making.

Participant: This may border on a recommendation, but it probably would not rise to the level of my top three. The agency back in `89-`91 had some magnificent training on risk. There was a training course on risk assessment and risk communication; there have been several folks that have mentioned that the people at EPA don’t understand risk. Well, lots of people don’t understand risk; it is not easy. That training went to the wayside, and again, I think getting back to the idea of cultural change it could be very helpful to reintroduce that kind of training so that the people at EPA understand those concepts.

Participant: On this issue of risk-based, I am very sympathetic to the first speaker’s comment, which I think was very specific and I think got to a pattern that I think that people find when they trace a particular issue down. I’ve managed research for my entire career, different disciplines, and I am impressed with the fact that the very nature of reality changes from discipline to discipline. What one discipline thinks of as data another doesn’t agree, so the version of reality differs, and this is true within disciplines as well. It seems to me that one of the issues that we have here in regard to risk analysis—is it an incomplete analysis of what it is and what it is supposed to do? What happens is we slip over from the political decision or the policy decision that has to be made to this vast area called risk analysis, which is supposed to instantly solve it for us, and it doesn’t do that. Any piece of research is a combination of the conceptual, the methodological, the management, the policy and the political call, and I think that this goes to a fundamental issue that faces EPA, and unbalances the political and policy playing field against them by this perpetuation of a pseudoscientific argument that just can’t be, it can never be resolved, there is no absolute standard in any policy, the only standard is that we have this amount of money today, we have this issue, what can we do with it? And science is one stream, I just suggest that this whole risk analysis thing… it is interesting to me that it is the first item, it is the one that has attracted so much attention, it is a much bigger issue than this narrow methodology.

Participant: Thank you, I want to comment on the basis of a strict management perspective. If you are going to use risk-based decision making then there needs to be an identification of our mission critical risks; they can be internal and managerial and may impact on how you allocate resources or they can be mission oriented. Whichever they are there needs to be a framework that allows you to asses also the gravity of the risk, and that needs to be weighed against the economic, the social, and the environmental consequences of doing something about that risk before you are in the position to make a wise decision.

Participant: Politics has contaminated the science that drives the risk and there is a basic conflict between an agency that has an aggressive regulating agenda and dictating what science ought to be put into play.

Moderator: Are you arguing that the science role should be removed from EPA if they are the enforcer?

Participant: That is a question I will answer when we get to the recommendations section.

Participant: I am struck thinking about the description of the individual from Green Mountain Institute about what he does, and I was struck by your discussion of the blending of both risk issues and human input in decisions and then going to the comment about the complexity of risk. Out of those two statements I would like to suggest the following challenge that EPA has. Risk characterization, assessment, analysis and management is not easy; it is highly complex. There is no easy way to do that, but the challenge is also whatever system of risk assessment that one has, one also has the challenge of communicating that to important stakeholders and constituents because they may not share the same knowledge base and yet one has to somehow bring about an understanding of whatever decision it is that is made. I think that at least some of the challenge that EPA has, and this is not unique to EPA, is how does one, not only do that risk assessment and input it into the decision process, but how does one effectively communicate that so that one has some degree of buy in and understanding of the decisions taken. And it is not just a one way street, that communication process, that is how does one also get input from those effected by that risk decision on its potential impact or relevance to them.

Participant: I wanted to underscore the politics and go back to the exposure in the model for information. It is has been my experience in observing EPA over the past few years that they have conducted their risk assessments using a certain model and when they did not like the results, they just switched to a different model to get results that matched the decision that they had already made. So I think that the decision making as far as risk assessments is concerned are politicized and they are made before the science and research actually takes place. I also wanted to underscore the training aspect. The last year and a half that I was at the agency, I tried to take the risk assessment course and it was cancelled every time it was scheduled. I did have the opportunity on 30 separate occasions, however, to take a course on cultural diversity. I think that the agency is getting away from their emphasis on science and risk and training their employees on non-related issues.

Participant: This is perhaps broader than just risk, but there needs to be more work on the cultural change of the agency from an atmosphere of experimentation to one of consistency. How can we truly use performance measurement systems so that we can draw some conclusions about improvements in the environment, leveraged by the agency, if we don’t have a consistent framework? And it goes to risk assessment and risk management guidelines and following those guidelines and insuring that management systems are in place, so that we can draw some important conclusions about our performance.

Participant: Two points, one related to risk assessment and consistency. I think that the disparity from office to office and program to program within EPA with the application of the risk based decision making continues to be a problem and it comes up when you have, as we increasingly will, cross media or cross programmatic types of decisions. Yucca Mountain is an example of where EPA is proposing two standards: one for resource, one for an all pathway standard, the second for ground water, a drinking water standard, there are two separate risk levels and they are not consistent and it doesn’t make sense, yet the agency for various reasons, because of the drinking water office being on a different track and the air office working in a different mode, has ended up with a fairly large policy difference that is having a major impact on a major program, the second point that I want to make goes to the question of to what extent does EPA continue to play along with the fiction that I think Congress is the source of and that is that EPA makes strictly technical decisions and not policy choices when it comes to regulation. Most regulations and regulatory decisions are science or technology informed, but are ultimately policy calls. To pretend otherwise gets us into this debate of whether they are using good science or not or which scientists they are using and I think a good challenge for EPA is to know when to stand up and say this is a policy call, we have a base of science and technology information that we are calling upon, but it is a policy call and if anyone thinks that it is something else then the policy is something that Congress needs to deal with.

Participant: From the preceding comments, I know why my concern has not been addressed, which I am worried about. The thing I am interested in is seeing more risk informed measures in EPA. There is a lot to look at in risk analysis that relates to intermediate outcomes and success and there is a way to factor those things into performance measures and I guess I am guilty of…well when you ask a carpenter to build a structure, you can bet it is going to be wood, if you ask a performance measurement person about risk analysis you are going to get a performance related answer. I would like to see more risk-based performance measuring in EPA; I think that is a short fault.

Participant: Partly building on some of these comments, is trying to broaden them out, because in some ways I think that in my opinion of these last 15 minutes have been overly focused on risk being a big factor in agency performance. If you are going to follow this format, I would like to move on to item number 35. A challenge that the agency continues to struggle with and we all continue to struggle with is actually using performance information to make decisions, or setting up forums to talk about outcome-based information. We see occasionally individuals ask the staff and say tell me what is going on in the environment in your area; for the most part we don’t see anyone asking EPA internally or anyone asking the states as part of the NEPPS process. Nobody is actually collecting the information, sitting down with it and saying what is this telling us about the environment.

Moderator: Let’s transition that into our next point, which is the NEPPS system.

Participant: I think that one of the big challenges remaining to the NEPPS system is that the role of the regions needs to be re-thought, and re-considered. We used to have a regional office at HQ to make sure that the regions had a voice at HQ. We probably now ought to have that office to make sure that the assistant administrators have a voice. It is too much of the tail wagging the dog and the regions have become an impediment in the relationships between the states and the agency.

Participant: I’d like to put 35 and 36 together for the moment, because I think that there is a great deal of commonality between the two. What needs to be done is a clearer understanding on the part of both the states and EPA of what is meant by delegation and what is meant by oversight. When a program has been delegated to a state, what does that then mean? Does the state then run the program? Or does EPA through oversight, second guess, and evaluate? How does that process work? It was not too many years ago that that process meant re-reading all issued permits at the EPA region to see if they had been done properly. I don’t think that is true anymore, but this issue is being resolved to some degree in the courts. The way that should be taking place is through the NEPPS process, so that when a delegation is made through the NEPPS process it is clear who is to do what and who the authorities are. I would urge in that process EPA to delegate that process, delegate the programs to the states. I don’t mean you forfeit all of your oversight responsibilities, but you stay out of as much of that as you can and you let the states manage the program. Our experience has been the programs worked best in that kind of situation.

Participant: I fully concur with what Robbie said, but I think that one of the things that EPA needs to do in order to effectuate NEPPS is to get out of the sort of dual system that is in place right now where they sort of toy around the edges with NEPPS and yet they leave in place the former framework so there are tons of checks and balances that are not the contractual arrangement that NEPPS is supposed to be. EPA needs to sort of move out of the old framework and into the new.

Participant: This is maybe just a different way of saying the same thing, but I just want to burst this out a little bit wider. It seems to me that what one fundamentally needs is greater role clarification, but that is not simply between EPA and the states, or EPA and the regions, it is indeed among all of the players, EPA, the states, EPA, its regional offices, EPA, its localities and those various entities themselves, and so really I think that role clarification among all of the relevant decision makers and managers is really a challenge.

Moderator: Would you say that the sharpening of the strategy that we talked about earlier, clarifying clearly what is EPA’s contribution to the intermediate outcome versus other actor’s contributions, is that the kind of dialogue that would achieve those ends, or is there another process that you would say needs to be put into place?

Participant: I think that is potentially a way to get there; that might not be the only vehicle to get there but certainly that strategic process is a staring point really thinking what is it we are trying to do and who can do and ought to be doing what. I think that is a starting point, yes.

Participant: I believe that as long as EPA’s personnel management system rewards employees based on the number of enforcement actions filed, you will never resolve this issue because enforcement employees are measured, it is evaluated every year, the agency statistics come out, you are comparing last years enforcement numbers with the current year’s enforcement numbers. Until that fundamental on an individual evaluation and rewards system is evaluated and overhauled, you won’t get true delegation of programs because someone is always going to be looking for where can we get our next enforcement case, because that is their job and that is how they are evaluated.

Moderator: So, potentially there are inappropriate measures of success. What measures we are looking at that are too process oriented rather than outcome oriented?

Participant: In the basic EPA personnel performance objectives at the individual employee level.

Participant: Well, certainly having actual performance measures rather than outputs and beans, we go along that way and I agree that defining roles is crucial, but there is also just a judgment call on many of these issues. We were talking about what is important, but then how important is it? Is EPA, when managing, looking at the forest or each of the trees, and how much do they value some of these issues? For example, if a state proposes a re-invention item and the enforcement program looks at that, well is the world going to end because Colorado has a new audit policy that is different than EPA. Is that something that’s worth pulling back a delegation or what is the scope of reaction and within the overall framework , how are these things treated, so that will be important too, in addition to the roles.

Participant: There has been some discussion earlier about the enhanced role and communication with local governments. I would like to focus on that for a moment, as a part of the federal-state relationship, because after all local governments are political subdivisions of the states and there is a limit to what you can do at the federal level with local governments. Having said that it seems to me that as a part of NEPPS, we need to recognize that one of the critical shortcomings of our three levels of government in respect to managing environmental challenges is the lack of expertise at the local government level. As we look to management along watershed, as we look to local improvements in local land use, planning and development, to do a better job at coming into compliance with the clean air act, or we think about issues like smart growth, we need to recognize that the whole in our system is the expertise in local governments. I would suggest that one of the short-comings and therefore one of the improvements would be EPA could use the NEPPS system to provide incentives to the states to increase and enhance the technical capability of the local governments with respect to environmental management, through increased grants. A number of years ago we focused on what we called building state capacity, its paid enormous state dividends. State environmental programs are much stronger now, we have sort of moved on to the second generation with NEPPS. If we could sort of use the NEPPS system to focus on enhancement of local government capabilities and think creatively like use of interagency personnel assignments from EPA to local governments and launch a major effort to build local government capacity, I think that would be a major improvement.

Participant: I wanted to follow up on some comments. Not only does the bean counting adversely effect the delegation process, but it also affects the quality of the enforcement actions brought at the federal level. So you have that ramification, and on top of that you also have incredible turf battles that rage not only between the HQ and the regions, but among those federal government agencies that have some sort of environmental responsibility, which is a laundry list; there are probably 12 parts of agencies that do have that. There is almost no form of incentive for these agencies to talk out issues with one another on a regular basis. And just as a personal note, the most difficult challenge that I faced in the DOJ during nine years was to serve as an attorney simultaneously for two warring federal government agencies. They were much worse with each other than battling the private sector. So I think that one suggestion would be that EPA has to take the lead, however difficult, in providing regular established forums internally with its sister agencies to talk out environmental issues both process as well as substance.

Participant: We have to depoliticize the data that is used to assess performance and it has to include the states. Either the water is getting better or it is not, and somebody earlier talked about an environmental data entity, but in essence that data has to be consistent and everybody has to have access to it, and then you argue over the interpretation.

Participant: For me, the key to this area is to pick put the parts that matter to people, and that is how you judge the states on whether they are being successful or not. Part of the problem is that nobody really is figuring out if our water or air is cleaner, whether public health has improved, etc. If you picked out a few of the outcome measures and that is how you judged performance, you would get away from the bean counting aspect of whether or not there are enough cases being brought. I mean you really should be measuring it on whether there are more fish in the river. And you would be starting to use the right information, which may be sitting there but just nobody is looking at it, or you would at least identify the data that you need that may not be there. Eventually you judge states on whether or not they are doing what they have to do, that should give you the jump to give states a little more freedom to do what they can in a bit more flexible of a system, and you get away from this old system where you are treating them as an administrative arm of the federal government. For me, the key is identifying what those priority outcomes are and then taking the leap and saying ok, if we are getting the results that we want, let’s let the states continue doing what they are doing.

Participant: Two comments related to who has got to do what here. One, I totally concur with the last set of comments, but a piece of history: early in her administration, Carol Browner announced that she was going to try to get away from bean counting and that she was not going to keep track of enforcement statistics or at least not use it as a key measure. She got clobbered by the Hill, by the environmental community, and it was politically untenable that she took that position, so I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for performance measured outcomes and systems that will do that and getting away from bean counting, but it is probably not within the power of the agency to do that on its own. The other quick comment, sort of in the same vein, is that relating to the question of jurisdictional comment; the turf battles and jurisdictional fights are a major impediment to getting stuff done is a major area where there needs to be improvement.

Participant: I think that there are some complicating factors that we need to be aware of and they present a real danger to making the progress that I think that we all want to make in state/EPA relations. It really re-enforces the desire for a linear system that starts at the top and works all the way down every dollar is spent where it is supposed to be spent and there is no diversion from that. That will stand sharply in the way of the system where we agree on outcomes and then get out of the way of a state, or get out of the way of a region to produce the results that we all agree on, and it is truly a structural problem in the federal management system.

Participant: I think that there are two key questions in the work that we have done that is coming up here: what do you mean by performance measurement, are you talking about measures that are going to be used to evaluate individuals, or are you talking about measures that I talked about earlier that you put out in front just to have a general discussion, are we making progress? Those are two very different sorts of discussions, so that is one challenge, we need to have some clarity on what it is we are talking about when we say performance measures and its use. Related to that and in this document that I found earlier is a key factor in determining how successful performance measurements systems are going to be is some agreement up front on how it is going to be used if you have got multiple parties involved. So, for example, what we have seen is there have been some assumptions within EPA as to how Congress is interpreting GPRA, and therefore how they ought to respond to it. There is the fear of the accountability and the hammer, and if your budget is counting on it, I am not going to report outcome measures that I cannot control. Its not just trusting EPA to use the right measures, it is coming to an agreement among the various parties about how those measures are going to be used.

Moderator: So drawing a line between and differentiating between what the agency is responsible for and what the agency is accountable for.

Participant: For example I gave the model that EPA sits down with Congress and says we want you to report those outcome measures, but we are not going to hold you accountable for them, but if you don’t report them, we are going to hammer you up, because we want to talk about those outcome measures in the context of what you are doing.

Participant: As sort of a subtext to this discussion on measures, I think that one of the things that we could do a lot better at is a consistent look at especially the environmental measures because they have to be multi-year to actually measure improvements or decreases in quality. So what we see is a lot of hopping around against measures and a lot of hopping around against measurement methodologies and we really need to settle on some of these things and hold them still for a while and do the hard work of monitoring. That is really the dreary work, and nobody likes to do it and it is not really exciting but somebody needs to do it; somebody needs to take it on.

Participant: I would like to list four challenges. The first is one is about focusing on the right environmental problems. I think that the challenge for EPA is that we are somewhat limited by our statutes and some environmental problems (climate change, habitat) need to be considered if we are going to be the Environmental Protection Agency. The second problem is one of roles. We talked earlier about EPA, when it was set up, it was the lead actor in many environmental decisions. Increasingly then, the role is much beyond states; its states, local governments, it’s the private sector, its companies and communities and lastly it’s individuals in the choices that they make. So there is a whole shift of roles in the challenge for the agency to help make that transition where all parts of society are playing a larger role in environmental protection. The third area is tools and the statutes and history of EPA guide us on a certain set of tools; but what we have begun to hear today is a broadening of those tools: information as a tool, markets as a tool, and a whole set of other tools, incentives instead of punishment as a tool, and so forth. That is the challenge, trying to figure out how to incorporate those. Last is the challenge that EPA was set up as a pollution control agency and that is where we started. It was about scrubbers and building drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment and the new game isn’t about that; it is about pollution prevention, it is about sustainability. It is a different set of goals, designing environment in, rather than trying to control it at the back end. To me those are the larger challenges that we face.

Moderator: And the word to use is change.

Participant: On the outcomes front, I don’t think that we have captured the full complexity of and the multi-dimensionality of outcomes. By that I mean that on one hand we have spent a lot of time talking about the need for actual environmental quality measures or indicators if you will, but taking a page from Florida and Florida’s environmental performance indicators, I think that there is something to learn from them. They have multiple sets of indicators, one is a set of environmental performance indicators, the other is a set of behavioral measures; but rather than the old style bean counting of how many enforcement actions did they do, on the behavioral front they look gee, did those enforcement actions yield real environmental performance improvements, either harm reductions or environmental quality improvements in some way. Secondly, to what degree do the actions that we are taking actually inspire a nation of self-motivated stewards? To what degree are we facilitating investing in pollution prevention, how much are they engaging in that? Then third, they have a set of measures that deals with agency effectiveness, that is, to what degree do the actions that we are taking actually result in better performance indicators and/or better behavior. So I think that outcomes are multi-dimensional. One more point on that front. It seems to me that EPA faces the challenge—and not EPA alone, anyone developing performance measures—there is an enormous challenge between the business strategy lingo, richness vs. reach. You can go on the richness direction and have a kind of data overload, or you could go on the reach direction and have broad indicators that don’t really give you the deeper insight and I think that is a real challenge. I want to shift gears a little bit and say that I think one of the real big challenges that I think that EPA faces is I guess what I characterize as full follow through on good ideas. There are a lot of really good ideas in the environmental innovations office and elsewhere, the real challenge is how does one institutionalize all of those, spread those throughout the agency and I guess this goes back to how do you create internal incentives that align with where you are trying to go with some of these ideas so that they become sort of self propelling, spreading itself in the agency.

Moderator: Let me just add, I think I will step out of my facilitation role, the Florida model is remarkable, in that it began under a Democratic administration under Virginia Wetherall and has continued under a Republican administration and has enjoyed the strong support of the Legislature where they have actually sat down with the Secretary in both administrations and developed the measures that are ultimately going to be used in Florida for environmental protection. That kind of bipartisan commitment and cross-branch commitment is truly remarkable.

Participant: To follow up on several points and to go back from Florida, one thing that made it possible there for the remarkable success, is the fact that in Florida they have converted to program budgets as opposed to line item budgets and it is the line item budgets that is most comfortable for 40 of the 50 state legislatures. As EPA tries to move the ball down the field in terms of managerial improvement, we have talked here this morning and it sounds more like an executive branch conversation to me, and the legislature is there as long as they are more interested in line item budgeting instead of program budgeting, they are going to be more interested in the bean counting, which is what happened to Carol Browner at the federal level. State legislatures that I have talked to refer to this as wing walking, but you have got the line item budget here and you really don’t want to let go to some new concept where you are going to be judged on better environment quality water and you are not quite sure you trust the executive branch agency in your legislative role. We are a long way off, and there is technical assistance that can be provided, there are models of management that could be very helpful at least for the natural resources environmental pollution control agencies.

Participant: I want to tie together the comment about EPA having been the lead agency among a lot of players, with an advantage of performance measures that I don’t think that we have focused on yet. I want somewhere the record to reflect that a limiting factor of our discussions this morning is that we have only talked about EPA when it is my understanding that the Department of Energy next year will spend more money on environmental protection and cleanup than EPA does. I am relatively certain that DOD will spend more money, depending on how you divide and count it, I suspect that the department of Interior will spend more money on that than EPA. So EPA is the third or fourth or fifth agency in terms of dollars spent on environmental protection, so we need to note that one of the advantages of performance measures is not only so that you can look at states and see how they are doing, but so that you can look at all of these federal agencies and see how they are doing. In my view, EPA needs to be the lead federal agency in federal compliance with environmental requirements. Now I know all about turf battles, having been in some myself, but someone in the federal government should be taking the lead for all of these activities to bring them into compliance with the requirements and I submit to you that that ought to be EPA, irrespective of what other agency is involved.

Participant: We have talked a little bit about the enforcement issue but we have talked about it in terms of bean counting. I think that it is a little more fundamental than that. I believe that there needs to be a re-integration of the enforcement program into the media program management. I don’t believe that there is a sort of conversion of priorities policies to carry out water policy, using air as an example, and from a state agency’s standpoint I sometimes see my air program being driven by EPA air program, which is appropriate, but then also by the enforcement programs separate air directives. And I say that coming from, I headed up the enforcement program at our agency for 12 years before I got this job, it is doable. I think that it has been lost on the federal level. The second challenge, I think that there needs to be greater emphasis on cross media policy development. I come from a state where our major water quality problem is their deposition of mercury in our lakes and we are dealing with it at a very late stage in terms of national policy development and those kinds of things need to be better worked out. The whole issue of MBTE in ground water is another example. There still needs to be full implementation of watershed based water quality management. I still don’t see the kind of convergence that we need in terms of TMDL’s, storm water, MPDS permits, the whole on pouring issue. I still think that there are barriers to most the most effective carrying out of really what is the issue and that is water quality. Lastly, and this administration has done a very good job in moving in the direction of innovation and I think that there has been marked work done in that area, I would say that the reason that there is innovation is because of what is happening on the HQ level and senior management in the region. One of the challenges that I think needs to happen is really driving that innovation culture further throughout the agency, at all levels of the agency and it has not been our experience. I think that, and this obviously involved Congress too, but increased capacity building of the states in this area, so that we don’t have to rob from our air staff or our water staff or waste staff to shift people into innovation areas, we need some dedicated sources there and EPA has been trying through grants and whatever, but I think that it needs to be a larger component of their management system financially.

Participant: I feel that the biggest challenge for EPA, and for environmental protection in general, for the next administration, for the next EPA administrator is to look at how can we change our statutory structure that is hindering us. There are a lot of good things that have been suggested as changes within EPA, but frankly, in terms of a real movement towards prevention-based multimedia types of protection, it gets away from bean counting, the only way we can really do that is to change the statutory structure. There is no other way. If you are looking at top down, if you have a structure that is focused on control of single-media there is no way we can get beyond that without changing that, so I think that the biggest challenge is to really look at the statutes and say how can we link them together, how can we make them prevention-, cleaner production-focused. It is a macro-level; it is not incremental like a lot of things that we are talking about, which is important as well. I think that without that you are really going to keep looking at prevention and sustainable development as boutique types of programs that don’t get their core funding, that have to always borrow from the media programs that are focused on bean counting, because they have to be.

Participant: An important barrier to EPA’s success in this regard has been its unwillingness to design or support a marketable permit system in which the permits themselves are legally enforceable property rights. Without them being legally enforceable property rights, our systems are destined to fail. My observation from dealing with EPA and other agencies is that, as a general rule, there is a positive association between quality of analysis and the resources devoted to doing it, but there are some pretty disturbing exceptions to that relationship and EPA is right there. It has a serious problem in developing creditable estimates particularly on the benefits side, and where other agencies have problems understanding basic technique and methodology in economics, EPA probably houses the largest collection of economists in the federal government that is anything that is apart from macro-economic things like money supply and counting housing starts and all that kind of stuff. Yet what frequently happens is that there is a knowing and willing injection of methodological error into their work at a very high level of sophistication, and this problem arises because the analysts are not separate from the programs to which they report. They are fundamentally tied, they are Siamese twins if you will, and because of that they have become, not analysts of regulatory programs and budget programs, but they have become advocates.

Participant: I have three disparate and un-suggested programs for change. First, the relationship with Congress needs to be improved. In spite of the inherent tensions that exist between the legislative and the executive branch, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of improvement in relationships between Congress and EPA. Number two, there needs to be a better balance in the contracts and grants function between protection of the agency or the government’s judiciary relationship and customer service to the agencies programs and partners like the states. The pendulum seems to far one way or the other, a number of years ago we probably swung too far towards customer service, getting the contracts awarded and getting the grants out the door, in recent years, because of criticism from the Hill and GAO and from the Inspector General, the pendulum swung too far the other way in protection of the government’s judiciary responsibility, and now we have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" to get the contracts awarded and the grants out the door. So we need to bring the pendulum back to balance between the protection of judiciary responsibility and customer service. Three, forgotten programs largely at EPA are what I refer to as the licensing programs. Those programs under FIFRA and TASCA that are intended to strike a balance between moving products, licensing products, moving them into commerce and protecting human health in the environment to make sure that those chemical products are safe. Those programs are in pesticides and toxics are under-funded and probably have the most significant human capital challenges of any programs in the agency. The people are not very talented and they are impeding the flow of safe products into commerce.

Participant: I thought that the remarks on changing the organizational statutes and whatnot were really something that needs to be done, but I am not willing to let EPA off the hook by saying that the statutes are the problem because our government has a history of solving these kinds of problems. There is widespread use of matrix management techniques in agencies like the DOE, we can do that in EPA, you can create cross media approaches within existing statutes. It is just a question of whether or not you want to do it, and when I fault EPA from looking at it from a management standpoint I’m looking at an organization, if it is truly functioning strategically you are going to see changes in structure, changes in program content and focus, changes in work processes changes in the types of programs that they have and the types of products that they deliver. When I look at EPA I don’t see those kinds of changes because of the management approach that they are taking, the way that they are organized around media. We can create matrix things now if we have leadership that brings them about, and if I were going to point to the single biggest fault that I see in that agency it is the failure to make these statutes work for the agency through matrix management.

Moderator: Before we go on to the other people on the waiting list, I really want to hone in on that there are some of you that argue that, and you have spent a lot of time on this, you have to update, you have to upgrade your environmental statutes if you are going to see the sorts of innovations that you want, and there others of you that say it is a question of leadership, all that you need to do is have the will and you can make it happen within the agency. Two extremes, does the truth lie somewhere in the middle, do you need statutory changes to accomplish what we have just been talking about?

Participant: Actually my point was right on that leadership issue, which is certainly the statutory changes would represent a fundamental change, but I think that we have been leaving out until now one of the other big focuses which are leadership and the actual individuals involved. We talked about tools, measures and otherwise, we have talked about parameters for use of the tools, whether it is roles or the statutes themselves, but we also need to talk about the people and the new generation of managers that are going to come in next year regardless of the winner. I think that it is those managers that are necessary to do some of the things like institutionalize some of these things that are just beginning, moving from experimentation to day-to-day operations, or moving from a planning process to day-to-day operations. As an example I will pick one of the most boring areas just to be contrary. We have talked about information management, we have talked about re-invention, but we also have this resource management issue and we talked earlier about planning; I think what you see here is that there are organizations within EPA that have been given the job and have done their best to go out and do that, to come up with the strategic plan, and to come up with innovations. But the question is, what is needed to get that out broader, and the planning area is where we have strategic plans, but we don’t have strategic operations. The way that works is that we do the budget and it is a strategic budget and then Congress gives the money to the agency and while the agency might have requested enough money for ten things, Congress may only give enough money for two or three things. Well the operation comes in, and well which do we pick? Do we try to do all ten and then maybe cut some of our core programs, do we pick the top three and only do those three? I think that we have erred more to the beginning, but there isn’t an accountability on how we actually manage and operate on a day to day basis, and whether or not we are implementing the strategic plan in our day to day operations. That is a metaphor for all of these areas, whether it is innovation, or information management improvements of needing managers who day-to-day push down, push out of the experimentation and into the day-to-day operations.

Participant: There is a third way, and I really think that question has to be reframed. We need a legal space to experiment, and the challenge is, I think that the agency and its partners are going to need to learn how to use that kind of legal authority to figure out where to go next, to figure out where those major structural changes will need to occur. We know a lot now, we know which direction we want those kinds of experiments to go, but we don’t know exactly how to write the statutes in a way that will get us where we want to go. I think that you need to know how to use both. The agency needs to learn how to use better what its got, but it also needs to have some room to move beyond that, rather than spending years in discussions about how much flexibility there actually is in the existing statutes. It is really a matter of the agency in the next administration understanding how they would go about using more of a license that Congress might grant, not to work outside, very carefully pick and choose how it is going to proceed with experimentation, but that it be focused on many of these areas that we have been talking about.

Participant: Leadership and vision, obviously, are going to be very critical in the implementation of any kind of agenda change. All I want to suggest, and again a number of people have mentioned it, is to the extent that you have a desire to change the system, improve the system, to achieve higher and better environmental outcomes, those changes cannot simply be done within the executive branch, within the agencies per say. I personally think that it is very important that you work not only within the agency and look at what needs to be done there in terms of organization and new management approaches, but the reality is that you have to be thinking smartly in terms of how you are going to be dealing with Congress. There is a lot of focus on getting more and better information, well what is the role of Congress in facilitating getting more and better information; to what extent do we see that when Congress does act it tends not to include an emphasis on doing more and better analysis and in the cases where it does focus on analysis, it might only act specifically to prohibit analysis. What do you do to change that situation if you are truly interested in more analysis? I mean what is the role of Congress in doing that and how often in fact does Congress serve as a barrier to more and better information rather than facilitating that? The role of the courts, a legal strategy, that is another element of bringing about change and thinking about what the role of the courts have been, and the Department of Justice and the enforcement strategies, that they have undertaken, with regards to environmental statutes. I think that the point that was made by someone else about the scope of environmental activities within the government is absolutely critical because it is not just EPA, and if anything those actions have broadening significantly across many agencies, with huge increases in budgets. Interior, Energy and Agriculture and DOD, probably every agency at this point has some significant role in environmental protection. That is something that has been a concerted effort that has been reflected over the past several years, the question is, does that continue? And to the extent that it does continue, how do you begin to try to coordinate those kinds of things so that you have a cohesive effective environmental strategy? And then finally, just understanding the role of third parties, which just manifest themselves in many different ways, but non-governmental organizations and the roles that NGO’s have played in the development of environmental policy, I think that is something else that needs to be considered, so I very much appreciate and understand the focus on performance measures and the internal management of the agencies, but ultimately at the end of the day you have to look at all of these external forces that just reflect a political and policy realities of how these things come about and develop a strategy that deals with each and every one of these little slices.

Participant: I whole-heartedly agree with the last comment because we will never have an effective management-based performance system as long as we have politics involved and that is both partisan politics and it is the non-partisan politics. When I went to the agency in 1983 they were taking about making the changes that we are talking about now, but every time someone tries to do something different than the same track that they have been on, the have gotten beaten up politically and in the media, and it doesn’t matter which political party you are dealing with, it has gone both ways. The non-partisan politics really in order to have a system that effectively works you are going to have to have buy-in from the environmental community, from the NGO’s because they have tremendous pressure, they have tremendous influence on both sides of the fence, and I think that dealing with those issues is going to be critical to achieving any success.

Participant: I guess I want to pose the challenge a little bit differently. It is true that anything that EPA does occurs within a political context, of course, and I would suggest that politics is a reality that one cannot excise out of either environmental statutes nor environmental management and external force is a reality. So the challenge is to recognize that external forces are there, that politics are a reality, what is it that one does have a decision making space to influence. On the one hand, clearly one needs some sort of internal sense of what kinds of transitional legal spaces might be required. One needs to know that, or have some sense of that: number one, to build a coalition building endeavor around creating that transitional legal space; number two, to create a communications strategy to help build support for where you need to go; and number three, to link that to any court and enforcement strategy and so forth, but recognizing that you cannot control the outcome of any of that kind of process. There are things that one can do internally and not withstanding those external forces, and I guess that I want to focus on that for a minute and suggest that one takes a page from what is happening in the states. State regulators face those same constraints; they have external forces and so on, and yet some of them have managed not simply to innovate in a piecemeal fashion, but to actually burst out those innovations in a more fully embodied sense within their organizations. What have they done, what strategies have they used, management strategies, is to rethink their internal incentive structures. I know George Meyer has done some work on that to actually rethink the kinds of incentives and reward structures that his people have that actually motivates them to engage in innovations that focus on performance and so on. Secondly, one does have some opportunity to build new organizational relationships among the constituent parts within your agency, which is new communication pathways among the different agencies and offices. Third, some states have worked to better develop the linkage between performance indicators and resource allocations. I mentioned Florida and I imagine that is very much what Dave is trying to do and in a very positive way. And then fourth, one can internally really begin to identify, for a performance-based system, what kinds of information gaps do we have and what kinds of information do we need and how can we allocate resources towards that, so those are all four things that, will that yield perfection, no, but they can be done regardless of external forces, so I think that we need to remember that we cannot rely so much on magical changes in either politics or those external forces.

Participant: I think that it is axiomatic with government and bureaucracy that it is easy to add a new program and much more difficult to reform a program, and I liked the use of the term legal space to do one of the objectives that we talked about earlier. I don’t think, when we talk about these tools, that we need to change the statutes. There is necessarily a confluence among the speakers as to what objectives we want to accomplish with the statutes. It is truly that we want to achieve more legal space to experiment, I think that would be a pretty good thing. I would suggest that every time that we add another category to work on and in the last few years it has been trying to push on Title 6, trying to push under ADA, trying to push under other programs to add new rules, regulations, things that you have to deal with. You are shrinking the legal space that you have to deal with, and I think that you are shrinking the legal space for the states and other folks who I think need to innovate. So this relationship between adding more regulations, adding more directions, adding more things for the agency to do, which is an inherent nature of the bureaucracy because branch chiefs would like to become division directors and if I can make an office of environmental protection, that is a whole lot better than just having my own thing. I have yet to see a program get dismantled or reformed or anything like that, and I believe that is the fundamental challenge, and so when I am speaking about the regulations and the statutes and the change, that is the perspective that I am coming from, I am not coming from the perspective that we need to get into the management of industrial processes or anything else, even though that might be a rich area of endeavor, so if the objective truly is the space to innovate and the space to create, I think that number one that would need to occur at the state level. I don’t think that true innovations can easily come at EPA and I think that EPA, the regs and the statutes can either be catalytic towards innovation but the true innovation would have to come from the states and localities, or they can be obstructive to those innovations. Right now, I believe that the reason that the middle management, besides their status quo, can’t move on in the innovative front is in fact when they look at the statutes and regulations that they don’t have the legal space to experiment. I think that going facility by facility for innovation is inherently a corrupt way of proceeding because it creates this political thing where if one company can pay proper homage to some administration they can get a little bit of flexibility in the area of enforcement rather than regulations. The only way that I believe that is less corruptible and probably better from a flexibility standpoint is to make sure that the legal space is afforded to a system and the systems that we have with the states, and that should be the focal point for innovation and what one has to do is do a review of the regulations, programs and statutes, and the barriers they pose to creating legal space.

Participant: I think that the role of scientist has diminished over time. As scientists either leave the agency or retire, they are being replaced by people with public policy backgrounds. While I am not saying that there is anything wrong with people with public policy backgrounds—there are probably some in the room now—I do think that it is important that the agency have a balance on the different skills mix within the agency. While we may be at a time when, and we can certainly open the debate on whether or not EPA should do their own research, they at least need to have scientists on staff that can interpret and understand the research being conducted by the contractees, the grantees, or the independent research that the agency relies on for their scientific research.

Participant: A challenge was alluded to in the first question, and that was praise for EPA’s inclusion of more stakeholders. I see this as a major challenge. I have had some experience lately where I have had some environmental agencies and EGO’s tell me that they are getting stakeholdered to death, not that they don’t want to be included, but that they do have limited resources. I think that we need to get environmental democracy, how do we get that stakeholder involvement from those folks that may not have the resources for involvement?

Participant: I think that is an interesting point about stakeholders, so let me say something about that first. I think that it is true that often times stakeholders mean special interest with focused interest and the challenge is to make sure that we are responding to a broader social interest a consumers’ interest, and that is a much harder thing to do because consumers are not organized. So what you have to do is read our public interest comments to know that interest. I also want to follow up on the discussion just before we broke about linking resource allocation with goals. In a 1987 or ‘88 report called "Unfinished Business" by EPA that ranked priorities based on public perception of risk and also on scientific assessments of risks, they found a divergence; what the public perceived as the riskiest were not at all what the experts thought were the riskiest environmental problems. And secondly, they found that EPA’s priorities tracked the public’s perception of risk very well, but not the scientific perception of risk. They did an assessment of their own resource allocation, within their programs and I expect that if you did that same analysis today you would find the same thing. I think that the real challenge here is communicating, so we need to do a better job of communicating what experts think the risks are, and that is a real challenge. A Harvard professor has done a very nice scholarly piece of work that proves that people believe the worst that they hear, and it doesn’t matter what source that it comes from. So I guess that leads us to your last question of asking us what we would suggest the new Administration should do, and I think that would be something to tackle, those challenges. To do a similar study about where our priorities are and how they match public perception of risk and move accordingly in both resource allocation and communication.

Participant: I offer as a small thought that is generic, but it is more important than it appears, and that is that the next political appointee, whoever it may be, let he or she decide no more than three things that that person wants accomplished by the end of the term. My experience over a long period of time is that new people coming in get overwhelmed and lose track of the one, two or three priorities or they have never set them and leave having never achieved them.

Participant: In 1994 and `95 as some of you may know, and may have been involved, John Graham of Harvard School of Health lead a research team to go ever further. Based on risk analysis, he came up with, if EPA reordered its priorities to line up with those of the risk assessments of the team, the team found out that 60 thousand lives a year could be saved without spending one additional dime. To me, that goes hand in glove with the comment that we have to flip this around, so that the scientists, those who are in the best authority to make the judgments on risk assessments, are the ones leading the public debate, not the other way around. So to the extent that that would be the challenge, update the John Graham study of 6 years ago and to publicize it appropriately.

Participant: I acknowledge that it is a challenge that the administrator can not do anything about, necessarily, but needs to note, and that is the splintered oversight of the agency performed by Congress and the division of environmental oversight responsibilities of, I don’t know, you fill in the blank 60 or 70 different committees or sub-committees. I spent 20 years of my life in another public policy area as a career Air Force officer, and if we had something in the Department of Defense that needed doing, we went to the Armed Services Committee. Now they had a lot of sub-committees, and you had to know which one to go to, but it was a committee; it was not a series of committees throughout Congress that had small bits. Now the administrator can not do anything about this when he or she gets there about that fact, but if he or she does not understand that fact and work over the course of two or four years to do something about that, much of the rest of this will not be accomplished.

Participant: This may sound like somewhat of a mundane challenge, but it seems to me that if the new administrator wants to look at the organizational structure of the agency it will be difficult or impossible to do while the appointees are in the confirmation process or the job is under the current structure and if you like it or not, the enforcement organization. Carol Browner did it when there was only one AA on the board and that was the AA for enforcement, and it was much easier to do it quickly.

Participant: I think one of the chief challenges and the thing that I suspect that person might want to do first is establish primacy within the Administration in terms of environmental policy. One can envision that there might be Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, Energy, and other functions within the Administration and who may have a greater ear, ultimately in the White House than the person in the EPA in determining the course of the country in the area of environmental issues. I am very concerned about how that may play out. Whatever you may want to say about Carol Browner’s leadership, she went toe to toe with those folks and she came out triumphant more often than not. The results may be something that people would want to argue on a different forum, but she made it clear that EPA’s role is somewhat transcendent when it comes to environmental issues. I think that the second thing that I was suggesting is to establish then a working relationship with those people. I think that one of the things that is missing is an integration of energy, environmental natural resource policy making, an activity within the Administration if that person can establish a good working relationship with those other folks, and come out in some joint fashion to say that there are a certain small set of issues that really need to be addressed, and to have the force of all of those cabinet folks working together then maybe some of these issues can be resolved. I think that it is in the power of the Administration to say that we do need a consolidated Congressional focus on environmental issues and I wouldn’t leave it at that. I would think of how to best integrate that with Energy, Transportation, and other policy making processes in Congress but certainly on the environment to make sure that there is a one stop shop in terms of where to go to get effective action.

Participant: To sort of follow on to other points of establishing priorities, and then developing external communications with industry, all of the groups out there, I think that an important priority for a new administrator is going to be internal communication, because I think that a lot of the changes that we are talking about are going to be viewed as a threat within the bureaucratic makeup of the agency. In trying to get some buy-in or some incentive for change in the agency you are going to have some buy-in from the people that are going to do it.

Participant: We have talked a lot about results-based management or using information for risk, and in terms of the new administrator, he or she is going to have to be honest and say are we going to really do information-based decision making. If we are going to be honest, then we need to say what are the resources that we are going to need to do that all the way down to those mundane, less than sexy things like monitoring programs and laying out a strategic plan for outcome-based or results-based management and all of the supporting structures that you need to do that, all of the information that you need to do that, and a timeline, you are not going to make outcome-based decisions a year from now, because a lot of the information that you need to do that does not exist, so there needs to be if you will a little bit of managing of expectations, and then a clear pathway of how you are going to get there.

Participant: Following up on what was said about expectations, I think that one of the things that the administrator needs to know is the true lack of understanding of the regulatory process or of any of these laws that he is working under by the people that have written the laws, by the Congress. The number of members who actually understand the definition of solid waste is probably zero, and if you start there, the process that we went through in 1986-1988 in terms of re-authorizing RCRA the members simply had no clue about what we were talking about. I think that if the new administrator really wants to not have their programs picked apart and really wants to not have their programs appropriated to death, they have got to figure out some way to educate the members of Congress or their staffs on what these issues are. Very few of the members sitting on the committees were there when these laws were passed, so none of them know the Clean Air Act or RICRA, or TASCA, but there has got to be some way to educate these members, to create a strategy to over time to truly communicate to the members, because otherwise what is going to happen is that when you try to re-authorize those bills you are going to have only the special interest or whoever gets their ear at that certain point getting in there and changing things.

Participant: I want to pick up again on the science point because I think that the administrator is going to have to make some critical decisions about the place of science in the agency and specifically pick up on recommendations that have been made over several years now, that there be a science advisor, that the science presence in the agency be elevated substantially into a position of authority there. I think that the opportunity there lies early on in an administration to set that tone and to start building on the credibility of EPA science because that is ultimately the foundation for everything that the agency is going to be doing from there on.

Participant: We did a one hour research study a couple of months ago, and we looked at bio’s of Senators. Of the 100 Senators, only 39 had had any experience of any kind in a bureaucracy. That is just an indicator of how difficult it is going to be to get any of them to understand the kinds of problems that EPA faces. This is bad in my view; you have got to understand a problem in my view if you are going to deal with it. Second, arguably the worst mistake that Carol Browner made in the eight years that she has been in office is to cut herself off from the career civil servants who worked for her when she first came in. My advice to a new administrator that came in would be to not make the same mistake.

Participant: I want to mention six things that I would consider constraints that pose challenges. One, someone has alluded to but I want to put it differently, and that is diverse agency cultures within the agency that is among the different offices, divisions and at different layers so getting buy-in to a strategic vision is challenging. Secondly, just understanding the fullness of the information gaps, if one wants to move in to a performance-directed focus, there are substantial information gaps. Third, is the absence of legal space. One needs to fully understand the implications of that absence for anything one wants to try. Fourth, is resource limitations, and I don’t simply mean financial, I mean human capital; so one ultimately does need to set priorities. Next, fractured channels of authority and responsibility for environmental decision making, both within the agency and externally, within Congress, or other agencies. And then finally, and we haven’t mentioned this, decision making in the environmental world resides in the context of habits of conflict, rather than habits of conversation. By that I mean that we have a long standing context in which environmental decision making has been highly contentious and the very emphasis on bean counting and enforcement makes it a conflict driven context. And to move towards trust building, which is a first step to communication, which is a step to better understanding risk issues, and therefore making better informed decision making does require a context of conversation and I think that is a real challenge.

Participant: The first point that I think that a new administrator has to acquaint themselves with is that they are going to be dealing with a situation of diminishing returns from the process of command and control as the means of delivering the different programs and outcomes that they want to do. They are going to have to move more and more to incentives and responsibilities as a means of motivating the changes that they want. That is probably going to throw them into some sort of conflict with the statutes. The second thing that I think an administrator needs to address is a strategy to start to focus on what are consistent values across all areas of activity in the environment. That would be a harbor to the consolidation of the statutes, so that you have a primary statute that finishes up addressing environmental issues and those are issues that are being faced by agencies across the board because these are now maturing issues and you have gone about as far as you can with command and control. To get the next games you are going to have to look for human behavior changes, things that will encourage people to move towards the highest common denominators, rather than shrinking them down to lowest common denominators which tends to be the effect of command and control approaches.

Moderator: What are some of the things that they can do to push those political forces along the path of innovation and get them to look at some of those statutory changes? How did you accommodate that change in New Zealand?

Participant: Talking about the politics and the public acceptability of the process, the first thing that you need to do is address the issue of values. What are the important values that you are trying to protect and project and then get acceptance that those are central to what you need to do, and then to look at the different agencies and the different statutes that don’t properly reflect those values. It then tends to drive you to a situation where you need to deal with that issue and in dealing with that issue you are really looking at how to consolidate the law. From our experience and the experience of others, when you deal with big issues like this today, you should deal with the whole of the problem at once, because if you deal with all of the problem at once you are able to get more trade-offs for winners and losers that will make the process more acceptable. If you deal with it in incrementalism you will get some of the good changes that you want and none of the bad things will be repealed. Finally, if you want to do that, the best thing is to take your brightest brains and just go in and write the new law as if there were no existing law and then market it among interest groups, and if you do that you can see that whenever you make a compromise. You can see what the cost of the compromise has been and you are also able to use that as a tool against the compromise. It takes time.

Participant: There is another dimension here that we keep talking about political space, legal space, you have to have room for investment space. You are going to ask real companies and businesses to give money to these get these things done. The fact is that there is no trust between the business community and EPA. We have a number of situations where they have said come do this, we will work with you, we say can you protect us from the evils from without, and they say no, we can’t quite do that, because the statutes need to be changed or whatever. So the fact is that one of the impediments is that the new EPA administrator has to act like business is an ally, because you are going to have to step up and ask people to make real investments. Sometimes they may not pass what we call the hurtle rate; they may not be justifiable but we have got to build a different kind of bridge and it may be that you need to look at the whole issue and it may be frankly that you need the energy equation, the economic reliability, all in the picture all at once so that you can say this is what we want, this is the kind of solution that you want, we are prepared to make the commitment. But the investment space and the economic reliability have to be on the table at the same time, and that has been the biggest gap and that is going to be the impediment for the new administrator, because you are going to have to basically sever eight years of experience.

Participant: Whoever the new administrator is, no matter which candidate wins, the White House is going to have to improve the working relationship with Congress. It has been probably more adversarial than it has since the 1980’s. I think that the agency has worked under a bunker mentality while working with Congress, and not just for passing any legislation or changing any laws, but also the very first part of the process and that is getting people confirmed in their positions at EPA. It is very likely that we will have different parties in control of the senate and the White House, and I’m not even sure which party is going to be where, but it is going to be an adversarial relationship that has to be addressed by the administration within the first few days.

Participant: I think the biggest challenge the new administrator is going to face is finding the time to do the hard work of managing EPA, building the consensus on a few priorities, and then things that he or she can get done in that four year period, hopefully four year period, or get started substantially along in 2 years. Just a few things—don’t try to change the whole world; don’t try to repeal the law of gravity, because it is not going to happen. Pick a few things, get consensus around them, find the time to get consensus around them and work them.

Participant: My advice to the administrator would be to assemble the senior management team, the assistant administrators and the regional administrators, and ensure that they understand that their first obligation is management of people and resources, not management of issues. You achieve public policy objectives and administer the laws more effectively if you manage the people and the dollars, and then let the issues bubble up from there. A more generic and totally unrelated issue, it is a government-wide problem that we are facing, is a lack of a talent pool for procurement contracts and grants administration. We used to look at the Department of Defense to develop procurement types. That is not occurring any more. If you were a young employee of the government would you want to go into one of those jobs? They are dreadfully dull; something needs to happen. We need legislation that will increase pay for people going into those kinds of jobs. If you think about the percent of EPA’s budget that is leveraged through contracts and grants and cooperative agreements, it is astounding. Those are not being leveraged well and the service is not being provided to the extent that it is, or that it should be, and it is not an EPA problem; it is a government wide problem.

Participant: In the short run, two very important things that the next administrator is going to have to do, actually I think involves dealing with the President. The first one is convincing the President to appoint as a deputy someone who has good managerial skills who can actually run the agency. Most of my experience has been at the Justice Department, and there is the deputy attorney general who actually runs the department and manages all of the supporting agencies and I think that pretty much it is an ideal situation to try to do that at any agency. It has got to be somebody that not only knows how to manage the agency, but also knows how to manage relations with Congress as well, so the new administrator has got to persuade the President that those are two criteria that he ought to have in mind when he selects someone or when he lets the new administrator select someone to fill the role of deputy. And the second is that the administrator has to persuade the President to invest some political capital in the changes that the administrator may want to make. If they are going to move away from a bean counting approach, if they are going to give the states more freedom, then they have to be willing to accept the fact that not only is there going to be a lot of political criticism, but there is the risk that some of these new approaches will fail. If an approach that you decide doesn’t immediately produce valuable results for the environment and you have also cut down on the number of enforcement actions because you have shifted resources over into compliance assistance, it is going to be very easy for an opponent to challenge that approach on the grounds that you are letting malefactors off. Early on is the best time to persuade the president to endorse these sorts of changes or at least be willing to spend some political capital supporting them, before all of these problems arise. And the problems may arise several years down the road, so the President has to know that it may take some time for these new approaches, if there are new approaches adopted to bear the wishes. So early on, the administrator has to be able to persuade the President to take that risk and to be willing to put some of his own political capital on the line in this area.

Participant: I would suggest that EPA’s very primacy in the federal government is exactly one its main problems. In my view, the last thing it needs is more of that. It needs a whole lot more institutional humility and part of that then comes with the decision of the new administrator that what things is this agency not going to do, what are the things that really belong to other parts of government that we are not going to do and to finally put boundaries on the extent to which EPA has metastasized into the entire governmental structure. There is no conceivable reason why EPA ought to be telling the Navy how its ballistic missal submarines ought to be handling their solid waste, and yet the agency does do stuff like this. So I would suggest identifying things that the agency is no longer going to attempt to do, and then on top of that, from the administrator’s perspective, publicly delegate responsibility for the decisions and responsibility for the consequences for those decisions to assistant administrators in areas within which their extensible area of expertise and responsibility and when it comes to specific issues to take up those issues only when you have conflicts among administrators and not be overwhelmed by the compulsion to exercise all the extraordinary authority that the administrator actually has.

Participant: I think that there has been a tremendous trust deficit that has been created, at least with Congress, and I believe with a number of governors with respect to the political actions of EPA. I think that it has become a very politically biased organization, one prone towards mischaracterization and misleading as a tool to deflect criticism instead of engaging in conversation. I think that it has itself become a political communications machine of some magnitude. I believe that this is a challenge facing the agency and that the agency should be worked in a less political fashion or a non-political fashion. We can’t get staff to come meet with us. Just in the spirit of two way conversations, to work on the trust deficit is going to be a high priority and I think that the administrator is going to have to have his or her short list of things they want to achieve, but to actually sit down with a number of members from Congress and governors and others and to have a conversation and establish trust that that conversation will be held at a certain level and not be mischaracterized and also that there will be a two way delivery in terms of objectives with respect to that…and that has not happened and everybody is to blame for that, but I think that is a major problem facing the entire system, and part of the reason that we are not able to move forward in a number of areas. So I think that the politization of the agency has been a challenge, I think that it has gone down, not only from the top level but I actually believe that what has happened is that if someone has an idea, or a piece of legislation, whatever it is, a direction is given to every office or sub-office to come up with as many conceivable mischaracterizations or criticisms as you can of said product as you can, and I think that has now involved many levels of EPA and I think that is going to have to be cleansed and it is a major problem facing the new administrator.

SECTION THREE

What action items and next steps do you recommend to the next Administration and Congress to improve the management and performance of EPA programs?

Participant: First, is that since 1993 there has been a statute on the books that requires EPA to produce an annual report on the state of the environment; they have yet to do so, they obviously should do so. I think that this, not only since it is statutorily required but also symbolically force the agency to address a lot of the issues that we have discussed today. Point number two, an entirely different, more minutia direction, is the wetlands issue and the federal definition is based on dicta of one federal court case, which I think is, from looking at it from a legal justice standpoint is an absolute outrage. That issue has to be addressed by Congress, with DOI and EPA to come up with an agreed upon statutory definition of what is a wetland, and I think that out of that it can solve a lot of problems that have once again gone into turf and other issues, even the whole endangered species aspect. Third thing, administratively, EPA HQ was set up at one time to handle all referrals, and they would review all enforcement referrals that came in throughout the country, that stopped 12 years ago but none of those positions have been eliminated, and that needs to be addressed and reconfigured.

Participant: First, EPA should clarify the roles of the various environmental regulatory bodies and in doing so, give the regions and the states the flexibility that they need to be innovative, which will allow them to provide what the business as an industry wants. They want certainty and they want consistency in environmental protection. Secondly, establish intra- and inter-agency communication systems so that we can quash the turf battles among the various stakeholders and the various offices among the regions, among the numerous federal agencies, states, and localities that are involved in environmental protection. And on a small, doable issue, one that is easy enough to tackle: further develop EPA’s websites and the internet, data management improvements. By developing it, I mean standardizing the information that is made available, publicly available information, so that businesses, the public, states, and everybody can rely on the information that is there, and know that everything that is applicable is available on certain websites and you don’t have to go searching around the country again to get one area where it is all centralized.

Participant: I will leave a couple for others, but let me focus first on the need to build on the efforts of an environmental data system and make it a coordinated and effective information system with the states, who generate most of the data. Secondly, to increase the efforts, for regulatory innovation, both in terms of the cultural changes needed within the agency but also the capacity enhancements that are needed for the states and NGO’s to make it a very effective system. And third, and it may be a different stature but, I am sure that several of my counterparts know that the states would flog me if I didn’t mention it, and once again it is the re-integration of the enforcement programs into the media program management.

Participant: Number one, to make a directive to make risk assessment an objective scientific process and to build on a suggestion earlier to enhance training in all offices for risk characterization and communication. The second thing would be to do a general cross-media program review and to attach a review on each rule that comes out as to the cross-media implications and the cross-program implications, and during that review to ensure that new programs that have started in the last 3-5 years have authorization and are not duplicating or being inconsistent with existing programs. And third, I would start quality management review where you are basically asking other users of EPA, what are their priorities for EPA. That would mean a conversation with Congress, with the states, but everyone of those groups then has to put together a list of their priorities and expectations and that should be established early in the administration and people who have expectations need to themselves describe which performance measures they think would satisfy those expectations. I think that if you establish that early, you would be able to point back to that and say look this is what you wanted us to do, these are the performance measures that you suggested, we agreed to some of those and here they are and this is how we performed.

Participant: Quickly I have three action items, the first two are macro and the last one is small and doable. The first one would be to come in with a strong and clear vision that promotes preventing pollution at the source. We had something like that similarly that happened with the current administration, but we didn’t have then the follow up and the leadership to take that further. So that would be number one; a lot would flow from that in terms of strong leadership on prevention, on cleaner production, on innovation. Two, and this I think complements what someone was just talking about in terms of cross media program review, and again I said this earlier. Come in and start a committed focus to re-evaluate restructuring our statutory framework, not to just build up new programs, but to look at dismantling dinosaur ones, and to really look and see how we can be more multi-media, more prevention-based. Number two would be to start an effort that would take many years that really looks at re-designing our statutes because not only are the feds acting based on the over-arching umbrella, but so are the states, the locals, a lot of them mirror what goes on at the federal level. And three, in terms of something that is really doable, at the minimum fund realistically the innovative type of pilot projects that are being carried out now within EPA within the states, but the resources are not adequate to take it further. So I think, fund those programs so that you really start broadening the experimentation that there has been lots that has been done in all levels and really take that to a new level.

Participant: The first thing is that the new administrator needs to demand early and meaningful involvement of states before the rule is written, before the budget is submitted, and before the announcement is made. The second one is that Congress needs to begin the process of re-authorizing the major environmental statutes, many of which are substantially out of date, and needs to begin the process of establishing statutory basis for the EPA. And the third one is for Congress and the EPA leadership. They need to continue to support the data management initiatives that everyone has talked about this morning, because if the data is wrong nothing else will work.

Participant: Item one is to insulate the scientists and economists and the other program analysts from the program offices whose job is to achieve specific targeted objectives. Item two would be for the administrator to take the initiative to go through a formal notice and comment process when it designs its methodology for regulatory analyses for major rules such that well before a proposed or final rule is written that analysis actually gets done, and it is done in accordance with the best available techniques and data that can be mustered thereby reducing conflict at the end of the process within the government, among stakeholders and within regulated parties and interest groups. Item three is to reconsider the peer review process that the agency has. The peer review process is designed for or uses a process that serves the wrong purpose, peer reviewers are asked to opine as to what is correct instead they are equipped not with those tools but instead with tools that enable them to decide whether or not something is worth publishing. The peer review process book for science and economics is based on the wrong model.

Participant: I have two recommendations. One is to strengthen and expand federal-state partnerships, such as the NEPPS program. The second is to make greater use of the environmental performance indicators, goals, and incentives.

Participant: I would suggest that in order to insulate the agency from the vagrancies of the political cycle, that the agency seriously consider a two-year budget cycle off Congressional elections to avoid the Christmas tree issue that we have every year at this time. The second thing that I would do, under previous administrations there has been a history of a revolving door where senior administrators and managers themselves have rotated in and out at a fairly rapid rate. I would try to get some kind of commitment from the administrator as well as the assistant administrators, to try to stay the duration of the administration or at least stay four years if someone is going to be re-elected. I think that it is terribly disruptive for career civil servants to keep getting tremendously different messages for whatever the flavor of the month is for who is now their boss. So this flip-flopping around of people is very disruptive. And the third thing is in my own particular area of interest which is the EPA does not have a green procurement strategy, and I would like to see them develop one.

Participant: My first would be to decide quickly on whether or not to reorganize the agency and do it before confirmation. If you decide you are going to reorganize then get it started quickly with support form the President, the Vice President and key members of Congress, and do it fast, otherwise if you decide to do it later you will get bogged down until the next election. Second, and it will sound self serving, but I don’t intend it to be, I would recommend to the new administrator to learn quickly how GPRA can be a tool to re-orient the agency to a new set of priorities and that it can be done relatively quickly if it is acted on quickly. And third, I would recommend that the administrator get a set of briefings in plain English on what we know and don’t know about environmental conditions and about environmental effects on human health, and then use that as a basis for a strategy to fill data gaps quickly.

Participant: First of all, I would suggest that the new administrator realize that there has been a huge turnover in management ranks about to happen in EPA and all regulatory agencies throughout government, to view that as an opportunity to instill new messages about results and performance based operations and to inject, if it is deemed wise to do that, more of a scientific sensitivity and awareness into the system. In other words, develop a good human resource management strategy that recognizes that there is going to be a huge turnover within the management ranks of EPA. Secondly, to reiterate something that was mentioned before: to ensure in whatever ways possible, and certainly this would have to be done in conjunction with Congress, environmental energy, and other important policy making so that there is this relatively seamless process for dealing with the larger picture.

Participant: Before, someone was talking about how politics has contaminated the science. This is sort of based on insulating economic and scientific decision making in policy making, but this sort of information, economic analysis risk assessment, these are tools that policy makers should to inform their decisions; they shouldn’t be used as just after the fact justification for decisions. But it seems as though, at least on a number of things that EPA is sort of in that mode now, so I would try to move the science to the front of that process, rather than the back of it. I’ve got one ditto, and then also adding on to what was said about the interaction and the partnership with the states. EPA seems a little reluctant…they seem willing to grant authority to the states, but they seem very reluctant in a lot of their regulations to trust the states to take the responsibility for a lot of the aspects of the program. States should have a little bit better ability to implement the programs with the specific considerations of their states and the priorities of their states in mind rather than having EPA try to think of all of the potential outcomes or places where the states could screw it up. States have plenty of incentives to do it right, let them take that opportunity to do it.

Participant: I would recommend that Congress and the President, with input from the governors, convene a commission or some sort of congress to draft a statute to integrate all of the environmental statutes. I just think that needs to be done, whether or not we can sell it at the end of the process is a different issue, but somebody needs to draft it. The second would be to, and this is a ditto, straighten out some of the roles between state and federal governments, that needs more work. And finally, more focus on GPRA and upper management levels.

Participant: First, with reference to GPRA, Congress and EPA need to meet and talk about and agree upon how performance measures will be reported and used. Get through this accountability question; in other words, get some clarity on the table as to what Congress wants, needs, and what EPA wants, needs, and get some agreement up front so that we can use GPRA as a tool rather than look at it as a barrier to outcome based reporting and management. Second, EPA should sponsor and convene or support a series of dialogues, first of all within its own agency. New administrators should ask the senior management, with the program level to say that in the course of six months or nine months you ought to be able to tell me the state of the environment for your program area. You need to collect that information and be able to report it, then we are going to sit down and talk about it. EPA or the administration should also ask all of the regional administrators to do the same thing, which should be a series within a year of regional dialogues on the state of the environment in each region and that should be convened with partners, stakeholders, NGO’s, states. On an annual basis there should be a forum to talk about the state of the environment, not just these annual reports that get thrown out there and then nothing happens; people need to start talking about the information. And as a third or another component to those dialogues, and with regards to the NEPPS, EPA should take with it at least one state and promote it with all of the states. Again these same sorts of dialogues as part of the NEPPS process, get the information out in front of those, collect it, talk about it, see what it is telling you. And then as the third recommendation which is something that is less clear, but something that we have not talked about and something that I want to throw on the table, is this sustainability thing. EPA, while it is well and good to talk about becoming a more effective organization and getting better at meeting environmental objectives, there needs to be some dialogues about what are some of the long term trends in terms of dealing with the environment, and how far are we going to be able to go even in this next round if you aren’t looking at some of the driving forces. There needs to be some long-term discussions. We are not going to get a sustainability statute in the next few years, and we are probably not going to have any sort of consensus on what we mean by that. But I think that EPA, not only needs to get its own house in order but also looking forward ten years down the road, saying, what is it that we need to be preparing ourselves for now so that we don’t get stuck in the same sort of muck that we are in now with some of our current environmental issues.

Participant: First thing that I would do, and it is sort of an umbrella of some of the other points that have been made, but set a course for building public acceptance in the idea that change is needed, and the case starts with understanding what is going on in the environment, where our problems are. Then, go about asking the question of how we go about setting priorities and solving the problems, asking Congress for the legal tools, asking Congress for the resources, for money and personnel to embark on the vision. Second, I would suggest that the EPA administrator work internally to overhaul the personnel system within the agency, primarily the rewards system, and re-write the performance criteria for not just senior managers, but all the way down the line, where innovation is awarded and made explicit as part of everyone’s job description, not just people in Jay’s office. Third, I would suggest to the administrator that he or she ask Congress for the authority to appoint a chief scientist and follow the model that is used for naming a director for the US Geological Survey. It is an appointment that transcends, and then the administration comes through recommendations from the National Academy of Science and that EPA actually have a chief scientist with considerable authority early in the agency processes to set a tone right from the outset that science is the underlying basis for the decision making.

Participant: Let me add a few ideas that aren’t very well thought out. First, as the administrator sets the new priorities, and they may be environmental, climate change, non-point source water quality, urban ozone, or they might be product stewardship, material flow, whatever they are, strategically plan the re-design around performance data. You may need a large budget to collect the information, and you may not have the tools, the monitor; you may need some R&D, but actually demonstrate and model how it should solve some new problems, how you actually solve them via performance. Second, as you are thinking about the roles in problem solving, expand the roles of companies, communities, and citizens in a system of environmental protection and constantly be looking for ways to do that, particularly ways around whole facility and whole community kinds of environmental solutions. That is something that needs to be pushed at EPA because structurally it is something that does not just happen. And third, increase and strategically target experimentation around issues one and two. There might be new kinds of permits incentives, a whole new kind of things that need to be demonstrated and think three new key concepts in experimentation that we have gotten stuck on over the past five to seven years. Accountability, transparency and participation to the public, and verification of results as you demonstrate and experiment.

Participant: And continuing on with the fine efforts that have been made to improve the data, the administrators should take advantage of much of the data that is needed that is already available in other federal agencies, universities, and so forth. To do this would probably require legislative authority to get the data in the formats in which it is needed. Outcomes: also continue along with the effort to base performance measures on outcomes, but make sure that those outcomes are based on the needs of the agency, not the existing data, as most of them currently are. On human capital, the administrator will have a workforce that is aging rapidly, an organizational alliance that has been essentially the same for the last 30 years. It is a good time to take a look at the whole thing, making determinations on the number of people that are needed, the skills that are needed, and where this should be deployed. To do that is going to have to force the issue of having to look at the organizational structure, the role of the states, and so on.

Participant: First, I would convene a task force that is heavily weighted towards state and local governments, as well as internal resources to redefine the roles and responsibilities of the EPA regions and make an alignment based on the recommendations of that study not to exceed more than one year. Two, I would reorganize HQ to span the control in the office of the administrator has gotten far too broad to be adequately managed. I’d correct a mistake made by the Bush administration when the assistant administrator for external affairs was abolished; I pulled that all back together, and we are serious about improving relations with Congress, with states, with local governments and improving our internal and external communication. We need to put our money where our mouth is and have that all under one presidentially appointed senior official. Two, the mistake made by the Clinton Administration is erosion of the management and the policy functions we now have OARM, which is cops and mops. We now have the Chief Financial Officer, we now have the Office of Environmental Management, and we have the Office of Policy Reinvention; they all need to be united into a mini OMB within EPA, and in doing so significantly enhance the capability of independent economic analysis. And third, and finally I would improve the data gaps by working with Congress to significantly enhance the funding for environmental monitoring.

Participant: Well, I think that I have about 13 dittos and these two. I would like to see EPA introduce the Results Act in a program-oriented way that makes it relevant to the partners, stakeholders, regulating entities, and the community served. If the EPA has a strategic plan that doesn’t resonate at the local level it is worthless. And second, I would like them to focus on these kind of cultural, and communications and change management issues. We have got to do the organizational things, that’s true. We have got to focus on priorities, but unless EPA focuses on these things, I don’t think that they are really going to get the bang for what they are doing and we’ll just end up with another organization for organization’s sake. We need to have people that know how to drive the change through an organization and know how to communicate.

Participant: First, the time has come for an integrated organic statute. It was the rationale for creating EPA in the first place—integration and 30 years of building Byzantine structures on single medium basis only re-enforces the point. I think that we know how to do it substantively; I think that it may be possible politically. Secondly, the data point that has been raised by a number of people, I think that we have to realize the immensity of the problem and figure out ways to jumpstart the process. My own recommendation would be to create a Bureau of Environmental Statistics that would enable us to draw on the data from both the states and various federal agencies and give it some sort of statutory basis. And finally on GPRA, which has been commented on by many people, let me just raise one somewhat related point on that, and that is that I think that EPA has to work with the Congress because only if Congress takes a serious interest in making sure that GPRA is implemented will it be implemented properly. There is an underlying point which has been an explicit point of controversy between EPA and Congress and that is, is the strategic plan designed to improve the environment or is it designed to implement the existing environmental statutes? EPA says the former, I am with them, but that has got to be straightened out before you figure out how the strategic plan is going to function.

Participant: I would recommend that under the aegis of the White House, a very high-ranking commission to be convened to explore specifically environmental performance management and results, and that it be a very short, six month type of commission that makes recommendations about where the impediments are, how to achieve the goals of many of the things that we have talked about today, but you would involve very high-ranking members of Congress to get those political views brought in: state and local government leaders and NGO’s seeking consensus on whatever you can reach consensus on that issue. The second thing that I would recommend is that the new administrator start a national dialogue on what is good science. I was a biologist before I was a lawyer and science is an art, it is not just pure black and white. Different scientists who are all very well qualified disagree vehemently about what the answers are. The public needs to understand that just because one scientist with a Ph.D. says that this is the answer, some other scientist that is equally qualified has a different answer and that is where policy choices need to come in. The third thing that I would recommend is that the EPA administrator realize that the job there is really one of leadership and not one of management. I consider a manager as someone who makes sure that the assembly line runs and that the employees show up for work, but you, as a political appointee, are at the agency for a short time and you will leave. Unless the career staff there have adopted, supported, and developed the ideas and principles that you are trying to establish, they will stop implementing them the day that you walk out the door. So unless you can lead the career staff in the direction that you want to go, rather than just try to manage them while you are there, then a large part of your effort will indeed be wasted.

Participant: My first recommendation is regulatory. I think that we need a mechanism for a greater recognition of the tradeoffs to meet social goals because programs and staffs within them have a very narrow focus about what priorities should be. So what I would do is make regulatory programs responsible to a division that has overarching responsibilities to maximize the net benefits to human health in the environment or protect public health and welfare. The second one is organization. We need to align the resources, regulatory, and enforcement efforts to real risks and environmental problems. I would go back to an unfinished business type of report that looks at what real risks are and use that to set priorities. Third is on enforcement. Let me just extend it a little bit and say leave enforcement to the states. Set broad, consistent, clear goals, but leave enforcement to the states, and if EPA, the federal agencies EPA and the Justice have disagreements with how the states are doing something, take it up with the states, rather than involving the private parties in these conflicts.

Participant: Everything that I am going to say has been said by somebody else, but I will do it for emphasis. I think that it is key that the agency start focusing on better information gathering, management and dissemination, which will lead to better signs and decision making. I think that it is imperative that it starts addressing the changing roles of the EPA in relationship to the states, to other federal agencies, to their regions, to other stakeholders’ corporate environmental groups, NGO’s, and so forth. And finally I think that it is key that people figure out, whether that is Congress or the White House, but they need to figure out how to institutionalize the innovations and flexibilities that are coming out, while still holding people accountable.

Participant: On performance, I think that the agency needs to continue to move in the direction of full development of performance indicators and a linkage between those indicators, and priority setting and resource allocation. In terms of decision context, and this gets to something someone just said, I think that someone needs to actually play a leadership role in trust building and vision articulation. And third, I think that the agency needs to, in terms of organization and structure, identify the transitional legal space and the organization management options that will clarify interagency roles, spark performance focused innovation by all actors, federal, state, regions and the private sector, and enhance its capacity for optimizing across multiple cross medium goals rather than this silo approach.

Participant: On innovation we agree that states offer the right space to innovate, so we would allow states to institutionalize innovative programs under the federally delegated programs. What I mean by that is that states can have this as a regular part of their process without having to run and get federal sign-off for each creative program. On science, we would follow the NRCS recommendation to create a Deputy Administrator for Science. Whatever roles for science end up moving out of the agency, there is always going to be a need for interpreting that science and decision making. That was mentioned earlier, this will help with that, this will also help incorporate risk-based priorities into the strategic planning progress; it will also elevate science within the agency. The third one is a permanent mechanism to inculcate state and local priorities in developing EPA’s priorities, and I hearken back to a previous idea and our goals and priorities project, which was the idea of an environmental goals commission that was staffed with states, localities, tribes, members of the federal government to really have a voice a permanent mechanism and involvement of the states and locals and strategic goals planning.

Participant: I would just add to one I think that the new Administration needs to revisit: the stakeholder process and how they use the stakeholders, including FACAs, how FACAs are used when they are used for what purpose they are used, and then how they are run. I mean, having staffed FACAs as well as having been a member of them I don’t think that we have always done the best job of extracting the quality kind of feedback FACAs that we have. And the second in on the human capital side, I think that the personnel practices need to be revisited. We have mentioned the incentives structure, what rewards, what drives EPA employees to do good things, whether it is innovation or customer service, or whatever. Other suggestions, I think that the agency needs to provide other opportunities for professional development and promotion without going through the supervision chain necessarily and revisit the supervisor/supervisee ratio. I sat as a deputy associate administrator and had 24 direct reports. I think that is not really a realistic expectation for a manager. Rotate managers, invest in training, and increase the use of IPAs. I am a great believer in walking a mile in the other person’s shoes.

Participant: Ditto to the suggestion about a Bureau of Environmental Statistics. I think that it is greatly overdue and if you combine that with the idea of the chief scientist, it will solve a lot of the problems and arguments. Someone mentioned something about a high level task force. One of the things that I would assign to such an organization or a task force would be to try to hammer out some sort of interagency agreement with federal polluters, starting with the military, and working my way into an interagency agreement to kind of clean up the federal house before I start continuing to work with the states. Perhaps a White House conference might be needed to help some of that and then finally grants for training of technical assistants for states and local NGO participants in the environmental management and prevention programs. I don’t think that quite enough is done, but until the whole culture is inculcated with the environmental management understanding, we are going to continue to flop around with lots of different people doing different things that don’t integrate and don’t fit together and eventually end up in the courts.

Participant: I think that one, we need to make EPA actions accountable to performance. The goal is to accomplish improvements in the environment; so all of our actions, efforts, and spending must be directed towards environmental achievement. That means strategic and prioritized operations, not just planning, development and use of performance measures, use of information to target efforts, regulatory and enforcement efforts strategic targeting. Second, we need to make integration an obligation. I think that too much we have gotten pulled into innovation or re-invention as a reward to the regulated community. Instead, we need to look at reducing barriers to improve minute reducing disincentives as an obligation. And then last, I think that we have to move further on helping those who want to help themselves; helping them to do the right thing. If they have a willing heart, that means there are a lot of big companies that don’t understand their obligations or don’t know their obligations with all of these complex federal regulations. So we need to provide incentives, knowledge, and the capability and reach out to those who need it, who aren’t necessarily reached by the limited enforcement program, but to anyone that is willing to comply.

Participant: Ditto on the consolidation of legislation. I would recommend a move from command and control policy approaches to encourage a new generation of incentive-based policy approaches. The second one would be to require the capability to produce cost-benefit information on each of the following: economic, social, and environmental consequences of programs and rules. And third, require a maximum level of transparency and disclosure on the effectiveness of programs, rules and processes.

Participant: First, the person next to me asked me to read one of his before he left. That is to move all health related science for regulatory requirements to NIH or CDC and get it out of EPA. Mine, I just have 3 short ones. The first is that we need to get better coordination between the regions, the HQ enforcement offices, and the program offices. All three have had a habit of issuing conflicting program directives and guidance documents that need to be better coordinated. The second is that, as far as risk goes, and risk-based decision making, I think that we need to go a step further to identify the risk trade-off decisions for the prioritization of decision making. And then third is that I think that the new EPA administration needs to work with Senator Smith in the Senate who wants to do an environmental authorization bill every two years. I think that would take a lot of pressure off of the environmental appropriations process and the whole problem of having riders during an appropriations bill.





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