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News Releases from Region 03

Nearing Full Implementation, EPA’s Lean Management System Delivers Results

Contact Information: 
EPA Region 3 Press Office (

PHILADELPHIA (November 12, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has implemented the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) to 87% of the Mid-Atlantic Region.

“EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional office has used ELMS to provide tangible results to our customers – from citizens who are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act to state governments updating state-wide permits,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.  “I’m proud to say our employees have continued to improve everyday business processes while adapting to a remote work environment. ELMS projects have been moving forward without hesitation.”   

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. The Mid-Atlantic Region’s implementation of each of these elements has allowed the agency 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.

Region 3 has accounted for 17 of those process improvements using this system.

In another example of the success of ELMS in Region 3, the Community Involvement Branch (CIB) utilized a flow and performance board – two visual management tools – as well as huddling, to increase the number of Superfund site profile webpages reviewed and updated to ensure important site information is current and communicated clearly to the community and other stakeholders. From April through September 2020 the team was able to increase the number of Superfund webpages reviewed and updated from a baseline of 67 out of 194 (35%) for the previous six months to 117 out of 194 (60%). 

Region 3 was also able to increase clean air program grants awarded to recipients in under 60 days from 47% to 86%. This was accomplished through the use of visual management and the problem-solving tool called an “A3.”

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 huddle in small groups for 15 minutes each week to review electronic boards used to track the flow of their team’s work and the metrics used to measure process performance.

“I’m extremely proud of this agency’s embrace of lean principles and commitment to continuous improvement,” said Henry Darwin, EPA’s chief operating officer and visionary behind ELMS. “Setting numeric goals, tracking workflow and performance, and solving problems using data and evidence is how I believe this agency can better protect human health and the environment. ELMS has given EPA employees a new way to accomplish our mission and the results speak for themselves.” 

Some of the other most notable process improvements that have been made across EPA since the system was implemented included reducing the agency’s backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests by almost 45%, increasing the number of inspections reports that are completed on-time and communicated to the regulated entity from around 49% to 82%, and a reduction in the number of backlogged new permit applications by almost 150.

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

For more on EPA’s 50th Anniversary and how the agency is protecting America’s waters, land and air, visit: or follow the agency on social media using #EPAat50

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