Ongoing Projects

The DEC Lean program produces a quarterly report for ongoing projects in active implementation. Updated 10/15/2019.

For more information about any of these projects, please contact  john.sears@vermont.gov

Groundwater Reclassification Improvement Project

(2015-YEAR COMPLETED)

Project goal: Improve the process to reclassify contaminated groundwater to class IV.  [OE1] 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Improved timeliness of reclassifications
  • Increased transparency[OE2] 
  • Increase number of reclassifications by 2018.

Baseline challenges:

Reclassification process lacked clarity
Reclassification process took too long to complete; each site reclassification took on average 15 months to complete.
Process resulted in improper submittal of information and materials. 
Roles and responsibilities were not well defined.
The process lacked transparency. [OE3] 
When a reclassification occurred, there was often inconsistent portrayal, distribution and use of the mapped data.  [OE4] 

Results:

The CI process helped staff (do these things) to produce (these results):

Groundwater Protection Rule and Strategy Revised:  

This rule has new regulations for groundwater reclassification, including requirements for reclassifying groundwater from potable (Class III) to non-potable (Class IV), including when groundwater standards are violated for over five years.  The new rules also provide new exemptions from reclassification, including defined situations where there is low risk to drinking water wells).[OE5] 

New Database: An interdivisional team met regularly to identify possible fixes to existing challenges. The team identified the need for a new database that would link existing program databases together and allowed program staff from (these programs) to input data into the appropriate database. The new database (solved these issues).     

Act 250 and Section 248 Response Coordination

Event Date – February 2017

 

The review of Section 248 and Act 250 permit applications requires input from various programs throughout the Agency. The existing process for soliciting comments on current applications involves a weekly email to over 200 staff.  The process often does not receive prompt responses to these requests and requires Office of Planning and Policy (OPP) staff to manually solicit comments for certain projects, leading to additional time spent to ensure completeness.  The current minimum timeframe for this process is a 21-day turnaround but can be longer depending on the type of application.

GOALS AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)

  • % of applications deemed complete upon submittal
  • % of time that technical comments are sufficient for filing on first submittal

STATUS

  • OPP user tested Arleane for a weekly 248/250 agenda with a group of 5 programs.
  • OPP met with IT to discuss long term build out of Arleane and options for achieving core functions identified in original LEAN process. IT is going to develop an estimate for the number of hours it will take for buildout of certain functions and future phases.
  • OPP relayed results of test and needed fixes to IT. Testing will start up again once fixes are complete.
  • Next steps:
  • As we continue to refine the system, we will set up another round of user group testing with additional Programs and continue roll out of the system. A final round of edits based on user testing will be sent to IT.  OPP also needs to design the home page and welcome screens.
  • OPP will need to meet with IT again to determine how to move forward with the system to achieve implementation of original identified core functions.

Federal Grants-In Process Improvement

Event Date – March 2019

 

​There are currently five people helping to manage incoming federal grants for the Department. These grant managers work with project managers across the Department to facilitate the process of applying for Federal funds from a variety of Agencies. In the past this process was held by one person allowing for a standard practice due to only one person carrying it out. Now that five people are involved, a standard practice needs to be developed to in order to maintain an organized process and consistency within the Department. 

GOALS

The overarching goals include promoting greater consistency and transparency in the process. We also would like to develop a process to ensure adequate time for proper budget and proposal development, as well as ensure all costs are included as part of the budgeting.

STATUS

During the last quarter the Team has worked with IT to implement the new Grants-In SharePoint site based on the FPR template site. We met several times to discuss the key metadata fields and how to best develop the site. After IT created the new site for us, the Team received training on how to develop views in SharePoint to create different grouping of the metadata. This metadata manipulation will allow us to enter the data once into SharePoint and then export that information into other existing tracking spreadsheets, saving duplicated efforts and reducing errors. All Federal grants managers were trained on the new site by IT and next steps are to work on the transition plan to migrate the current Y drive data to SharePoint.

The team is planning to restart work with our Lean Program Manager to make more improvements to the budget template now that the new version has been used over the past six months of grant applications. BTI is helping us make the spreadsheet simpler to use and less error prone. The Grants-In SOP outline has been developed, but due to the focus on year end tasks and disruptions due to COVID we haven’t made process on completing all the components. Over the next quarter, we anticipate using some of the momentum we have on year-end processes to help get this document completed in conjunction with the new SharePoint site rollout.

Permit Performance Standards  

Event Date – July 2016

 

In 1987, the Legislature mandated that the Agency of Natural Resources establish time limits for the processing of permits as well as procedures and time periods within which to notify applicants whether an application is complete. Annually, ANR (specifically DEC) is required to submit a report to the legislature assessing its performance in meeting the time limits. Given that these time limits have not been updated since 2005, that the procedure for calculating them is from 1996, and that the knowledge and use of the time limits and procedure is inconsistent across the Department, now seemed like a good time to look at the process to find ways to improve it

GOALS AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)

• % of programs evaluated on how they implement the permit application review procedure and track process performance

• % of programs actively using performance data to manage permit processes

STATUS

Permit Performance Tracking Database – Program integration has expanded, including:

  • Drinking Water
  • Solid Waste
  • STRALT Database
  • SHORE Database
  • WETLND Database

 

LaRosa Program

Event Date - July 2019

 

Revisit the purpose of the LaRosa Program in order to refine program elements, especially as they pertain to administration (staffing), logistics (and coordination with the VAEL), capacity (services provided, budget), and strategic monitoring (for targeting surface waters with partners). Desired outcome: more strategic monitoring/ sampling designs, less programmatic oversight, enhanced coordination with partners that does not exceed programmatic capacity. More straight forward administration (perhaps in coordination with other WSMD programs, especially Lakes and Ponds). ​​

GOALS

Near and long term outcomes that will determine efficiencies in program administration, logistical coordination, future capacity, and strategic approaches to monitoring (in coordination with partners). ​

STATUS

  • 2019 LaRosa Operational Support Grants (LOSGs) will be reimbursed for invoiced and approved activities through April 3, 2020.  WID sent email to LOSG applicants letting them know that activities after that should cease due to COVID-19 budget woes. 
  • 2017 data:  This took longer than Jim expected.  New deadline is June 1.  
  • 2018 data:  Kat working on QC queries.  Once Tim sends back, final review be forwarded to JK for final review.  New deadline is June 1.
  • 2019 data:  Received responses form 2/3 of LPP groups.  Following up with remaining 1/3.  Data will be uploaded by July 2020. 
  • 2020 data management: Partners know they will need to use VT site id, QA sample id.  JK spoke with TPricer but needs more work to formalize format and receive flow data.
  • Request For Proposals:  Significant changes finalized to RFP including:
  • Refine eligibility criteria and scoring matrix for proposals
  • Standardized format for application
  • Adding a table showing costs of analytical services requested
  • Added clear scoring criteria for project acceptance
  • LPP proposal review committee used scoring criteria to rate proposals

Results of change:

  • LaRosa analytical service will now be within $100,000 budget established for the program
  • LaRosa will be closer to being within staff capacity to administer project
  • Partners will be clear on selection criteria and scoring of projects

Next steps:

  • 2020 LASG proposals are on hold due to COVID-19 budget woes.
  • If LASG gets funded, Review committee will need to meet to make final decisions on which projects will be funded to what degree based on viability and funds available. 
  • If LASG gets funded and if LASG monitoring takes place, finalize coding for sample location and QA type.
  • If LASG monitoring does not occur, turn focus to reviewing and uploading historical data.
  • 2020 LASG are being examined to see which projects are still viable with a later start date.
  • 2019 LOSG recipients are sending in their invoices for work already performed.  Invoices are being reviewed and approved for payment for final payment by WID GMS.  Due to a GMS FMLA, it is uncertain who this is.

 

DEC Passthrough

Event Date - September 2019

 

Grants are no longer expected to be administered and handled by a WID or AID Grants Management Specialist for their entire lifetime. The timeline from RFP posting to Agreement Execution is being isolated to better expedite the process which can often take too long to complete, and the number of tasks the GMS is asked to complete outreaches their job duties. ​

 

GOALS

Generate a future state process for the notice of RFP to agreement process which is which can be applied within 30 Days. Defining roles and responsibility for the new process for all DEC grants. Increased process transparency and customer service generated by having a single process. Define the Grants Management Specialist role. ​

STATUS

Grants Out:

Progress has been on hold due to the implementation of an online grants and contracts invoicing process. A large outcome of this Lean event was to clearly document and define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved with pass-thru projects; since the invoicing portion is a large piece of this effort and the process is changing, this documentation has temporarily been put on hold. Once the online grants and contracts invoicing has passed the first two roll-out phases, this documentation will be completed. Much of the other documentation of processes and generation of templates has been successfully completed.

 

Invoicing:

The ANR Online form has been completed and tested several times, and we implemented a soft internal roll-out of the process in June 1. GMS staff are  acting on behalf of vendors to submit invoices and TPM’s and Invoice Processors will go through the new process in full on ANR Online. The GCMS database has been successfully modified to incorporate the ANR Online form, and the data transfer between the two sources has been tested as well. The plan is still on target for a July 1, 2020 full roll-out to grants and contracts invoicing.

Air Quality Point Source Registration Program
Event Date – Feb 2020

 

The annual registration process is overly burdensome in terms of staff time and the lack of transparency in the process makes tracking various phases of the system’s status difficult and prone to error. Mid-late December letters go out, Data due Feb. 1. Emissions fees estimated and invoices sent as data are received, January-May.  Payments are due May 15. ​ Various extensions requested. ​

The process is reliant on email system. Difficulty tracking contacts/emails for 200~ Total Systems with several categories of billing. Staff do not know if payment has been completed.  

 

GOALS AND KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)  

·         Staff Hours/Yr Changed​

·         Process Hours/Yr Changed​

·         Loopbacks Eliminated​

·         Standardized Work or Process Made Electronic​

·         Identify and Eliminate unnecessary Forms/Documents​

·         # of Process Steps Eliminated​

·         Errors Types Corrected​

STATUS

The three-day lean event for the AQCD Registration Program was held February 2020.  This is the first quarterly update covering status through April 2020. 

Much was accomplished in the first quarter of 2020, especially considering that the Lean event was held in mid-February and by mid-March everyone had transitioned to working from home due to the coronavirus.  There were a number of quick solutions to stand up in order to continue effectively in the remote work environment, such as a general intake form on ANR Online which enabled electronic payments and form submittals as needed for some facilities.  Otherwise, progress continued much as it would have if we had been working in the office.  Below is a list of tasks accomplished during that quarter:

  • Stopped tracking email “read receipts” because the data were determined to have very limited use for compliance purposes – no value add.
  • Staff prepared a new and updated fee transmittal spreadsheet and trained admin staff on use to enter check information during our current and ongoing registration cycle for CY 2019.
  • An IT request for merging duplicative facility tables in the SQL database was submitted.
  • Staff completed the matching exercise between facility tables in AQCD program databases.
  • An IT request was submitted to develop a fee nForm for online use in the ANR Online platform.
  • Staff utilized the email merge functionality to send invoices to <5 tpy facilities, by source category.

Tasks to be done in the second quarter:

  • Work with legal and AQCD Permitting Section Chief on flat fee multiplication for sources at single location.
  • Test program database with new facility table.
  • Update SOP for following up with delinquent facilities that did not submit data and/or payment.
  • Work towards moving the tracking process to the SQL database.
  • Work on business/entity variables in database to process multiple facilities under common ownership more effectively.

Indirect Discharge Compliance Reporting

Event Date – Dec. 2018

 

Indirect Discharge systems permitted with individual permits are required to submit monthly or quarterly compliance data to the Indirect Discharge Program, located in the Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division in DEC. Reports are received primarily via email and are processed twice: once for administrative presence/absence and once for compliance with permit conditions. The program historically had multiple permit compliance staff and greater administrative support; currently, the program consists of one compliance staff person and one administrative staff person whose time is shared between multiple programs.

GOALS

  • Streamline the format of data received to conform to compliance information required ​
  • Enable ability to track outstanding reports efficiently ​
  • Create capability to quickly extract compliance data and whether standards are being met ​
  • Combine data into one efficient data base with efficient dash board and report capabilities

STATUS

See project closeout report below

                 

 

Other Notable Projects Started/Supported this Quarter

·         ANR Municipal Day Reboot Brainstorming

·         Lean Learning Series:

·         FPR Fire Warden Hiring Process

Projects Closed Last Quarter

·         WMPD Petroleum Cleanup Fund (PCF) Reimbursement

·         Act 76 Project Closeout Project

Lean Project Closeout Report

DWGW - Indirect Discharge Compliance Reporting   May 29, 2020 

Background

Most Indirect Discharge Individual Permits are required to submit monthly or quarterly compliance data. Reports were received primarily via email and processed twice: administrative review and  compliance with permit conditions. The Lean project focused  on streamlining the format of data received to fit the information required; created ability to track outstanding reports efficiently and extract stored data to review for compliance standards; and combined data into one data base with dashboard and report capabilities. 

Key Changes Made

  • Created Cover Sheet to accompany submittals as a prequel to the nForm online form process 
  • Sent informational Newsletter 
  • Updated Indirect and Underground Injection Control (UIC) web pages and added resources 
  • Revised invoice format providing tear-off sheet for contact updates 
  • Updated WW Inventory permit information and Rolodex 
  • Created SOP for WW Inventory and Compliance Procedure 
  • WW Inventory was updated to house all lab data 
  • Created invoicing in WW Inventory to track accounts receivable 
  • Five years of back data was entered into the WW Inventory for 108 reporting facilities 
  • Queries have been created to retrieve stored data 

Key Indicators

KPI 

Final Estimate 

Met or Exceeded 

Staff Hours/Yr Changed 

520 

☒ 

Process Hours/Yr Changed 

520 

☒ 

Standardized Work or Process Made Electronic 

2

☒ 

Unnecessary Forms/Documents Elim. 

☒ 

# of Process Steps Eliminated 

☒ 

Errors Types Corrected 

☒ 

Inspection Report Submittal Compliance

Up 40%

 

Implementation Report Submittal Compliance

Up 45%

 

 

Results  

Just prior to the Lean event, we held a Fishbone (diagram?) event on the Annual Inspection/Implementation schedules.  Prior to the event we calculated nearly 50% of our inspections were received late and over 70% of our implementation schedules were late.  This year, we were much more aggressive in reaching out and following up with permittees and received all but 4 implementation schedules in a timely manner without an immense amount of effort.  

The cover sheet is used by many of the permittees and is extremely helpful in quickly identifying permit number, etc.  With all the contact information updated in the WW Inventory, we can easily find email, mailing address and other contact information for facilities.  The information can be retrieved via query when needed. 

With the bulk of the lab data entered in the WW Inventory, it is a quick process to pull a query for a permit and range of time for permit renewal or compliance review. 

After the Lean event (and out of the scope of our event, but noteworthy nonetheless), AID’s John Sears and DWGW’s Sharon Bissel met to Lean the process of the Indirect Discharge/UIC accounts receivable and aging reports.  The original process had multiple redundant data entry points and the result is one EXCEL spreadsheet instead of two with data being entered once rather than 4 times.   

Next Steps  

Training for all Indirect/UIC staff is needed so that everyone can have the hands-on abilities to retrieve data if needed.  The dashboard training will be ongoing.  Future state will be to create an nForm in ANR Online for electronic submittal of monthly reports directly from the Permittee. 

Check out the rest of the quarterly report below and if you have any questions, or need assistance with any process improvement idea, please reach out to john.sears@vermont.gov .