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EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Programs Finds Success with the Lean Management System

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WASHINGTON (November 16, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has implemented the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) to 83% of the agency across the United States. EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) has been a leader in ELMS implementation, supporting the agency’s efforts to ensure that environmental enforcement and compliance activities are delivered more quickly and efficiently to protect our citizens and environment.  

“By applying the Lean Management System to many of our enforcement programs, we have been able to accelerate enforcement actions and cleanup efforts,” said Susan Bodine, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By increasing our efficiency, we are able to deliver environmental benefits sooner.”

ELMS is an agency-wide systematic approach to continuous process improvement. It is based on Lean principles used for years by the private sector and is comprised of six components: visual management, standard process, cascading performance measures, problem solving, business reviews & huddles, and leader behaviors. Implementation of each of these elements has allowed EPA to make significant improvements to the speed and quality at which it delivers its services to the American people.

EPA Office of Continuous Improvement – the team responsible for implementing ELMS – set a goal to deploy this system to 80% of agency personnel and use it to improve 250 processes by fiscal year 2020. Both goals were successfully met with the agency reporting over 500 processes improved and 83% of personnel using ELMS.

One of the national programs that has seen success in using ELMS is the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). OECA identified 18 projects in their offices which could benefit from this project improvement process.

In one example, the National Enforcement Investigation Center (NEIC), EPA’s accredited environmental forensics center, has used ELMS to completely revamp its inspection and laboratory report process to significantly reduce redundancies and create easily identifiable milestones to track progress. Prior to ELMS, only 33% of inspection and laboratory reports were completed in a 60-day timeframe. Today, 81% of reports are completed within a 60-day timeframe, increasing the agency’s ability to take timely enforcement and compliance actions.

In another example, OECA’s Office of Site Remediation and Enforcement (OSRE), which enforces EPA’s national hazardous waste cleanup program, utilized the ELMS process to reduce delays in the negotiation of Remedial Design/Remedial Assessment (RD/RA) agreements. After one year of using ELMS, 100% of sites with protracted RD/RA negotiations – negotiations lasting greater than one year – have been addressed by either completing negotiations and reaching a settlement or putting in place a detailed plan to complete negotiations in a timely fashion. This project resulted in the successful conclusion of complex Superfund settlement negotiations that were ongoing for two to nine years for a combined value of $164.5 million.  

As part of the new system, the executives in EPA’s 23 national programs and regional offices monitor over 800 measures each month. If a measure’s target is not met, problem solving is performed and a plan is created for getting back on track. In addition, over 10,000 of EPA’s staff on the front line now meet in small groups for 15 minutes each week to review electronic boards to track the flow of their team’s work and the metrics used to measure process performance.

For more information of EPA’s continuous improvement efforts, please visit

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