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State Innovation Grants

EPA 2005-2006 State Innovation Grants Competition Pre-Proposals

Implementing a Web-based Permit Assistant and Online Permit Application Submitted to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
ATTN: Sherri Walker
(202) 566-2186

Submitted by:
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
DUNS # 878144757
EIN # 44-6000987
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City , MO 65102-1076

Amber Kreter
Data Processing Manager
Air and Land Protection Division
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City , MO 65102-0176
Email: amber.kreter@dnr.mo.gov
Phone: (573)-751-6892
Fax: (573) 751-9227

Project Summary

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is a proponent of the EPA’s Innovating for Better Environmental Results strategy, which promotes the “next generation” of environmental protection and has already initiated internal efforts to that end. Our State Innovation Grant proposal for 2005-2006 involves the comprehensive analysis of the processes for all permits, licenses, and certifications (hereafter referred to as “permits”) offered by the state, the implementation of a web-based “Permit Assistant” utilizing GIS technology, and the automation of one permit application. These innovations will assist our state in enhancing information availability, streamlining business processes, and providing higher quality permit processing at a lower cost. The innovation grant will also assist our department in fulfilling its mission to preserve, protect, and enhance Missouri's natural, cultural, historical, and energy resources and work to inspire their enjoyment and responsible use for present and future generations.

To assist in this endeavor the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is requesting a direct funding grant in the amount of $***. The state has already expended an estimated $*** in staff time analyzing the permitting process from January to March of 2005 and has invested $*** in enterprise geographic information systems (GIS) and staff during the past four years. The department plans to expend significant funds over the next few years improving the business. Besides enterprise GIS support investments, the department continues to invest heavily in its GIS and global positioning system (GPS) user community’s hardware, software, and training. The project manager’s contact information is as follows:

Amber Kreter (Air & Land Protection Division)
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 176
Jefferson City , MO 65102-0176
Email: amber.kreter@dnr.mo.gov
Phone: (573)-751-6892
Fax: (573) 751-9227

Project Description

Currently, the applications for Missouri Department of Natural Resources permits are a maze of requirements for different agencies that often force regulated entities to hire consultants just to research what regulatory requirements are applicable to their situation. The department is proposing a three phase project for the 2005-2006 program that will provide the regulated community with step-by-step assistance in determining regulatory requirements as well as automate the first of many permit applications. The three phases of the project are as follows:

Phase I – Analyze and update publications 98, 541, and 484 published by our Outreach and Assistance Center which provide comprehensive explanations of all permits issued by the department.

Phase II – Implement a web-based “Permit Assistant” to summarize this information for the regulated community and provide comprehensive guidance in a format that is easy to understand and widely available. This application will not include the actual permit tracking process. Instead, it will utilize spatial technology to help regulated entities answer the questions “What permits do I need and what forms should I fill out?” based on their type/size of business and geographic location.

Phase III – Provide online submittal of the required form(s) for one of over 40 permits issued by our environmental agencies.

Budget Summary

[Removed by EPA]

Project Schedule and Timeframe


Scheduled Completion


October 1, 2005 *


December 31, 2005


April 30, 2006

* This project has been identified as a high priority for our department. A project plan is currently under development and work is expected to begin on Phase I, using internal resources, during May 2005. Grant monies received from the EPA will be used to fund contractors in Phases II and III to supplement the department’s programming staff.

Program Criteria

The following is a factor-by-factor response to the grant solicitation as requested in the solicitation. Target Priority Environmental Areas

The Department’s Permit Assistant will assist regulated entities with obtaining all the permits they need to operate a business in the State of Missouri. This will facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gases and smog and help restore and maintain water and soil quality by increasing regulatory compliance. By providing a comprehensive, user-friendly guide for all Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ environmental permits, the assistant will help ensure that regulated entities are advised of environmental regulatory requirements related to their type of operation, size of operation, and geographic location. Subsequent project enhancements will include online permit applications for all environmental agencies within the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. In addition to increasing regulatory compliance this strategy will reduce cost to both the department and regulated entities by clearly defining and expediting application submittal. Improvement in Results from Project Implementation How does the proposed tool or approach differ from traditional approaches?

The Department believes the Permit Assistant will present the most significant innovation and most dramatic benefits to small- and medium-sized businesses in Missouri, particularly new businesses or those with new regulatory compliance personnel. Traditionally, these facilities and new personnel have had to do a tremendous amount of research to determine the types of permits required for their operations.

Missouri has established the Outreach and Assistance Center (OAC) to facilitate this process but this typically involves a wait of several days before meeting with an OAC representative. OAC personnel also do not have access to accurate geographical data while in the field. The Permit Assistant would not only provide “do-it-yourself” services to the regulated community but it would also provide OAC with a quick, easily available, and consistent mechanism for advising facilities on applicable environmental permit needs and regulations.

Several aspects of this proposal involve the innovative use of spatial technology. Our plans include leveraging our implementation of ESRI's ArcSDE product and IBM's DB2 Spatial Data Extender, both of which are being used to spatially enable our enterprise systems. We also plan to implement ESRI's ArcIMS product and use it to allow map interpolation over the Web, sending spatial SQL statements with the coordinate pairs captured through that interface to our enterprise GIS system. Our longer term plans include the conversion of legal descriptions, and later physical addresses, to offer Web site visitors three methods for indicating their location. These longer term plans will not only help the regulated community with the permit process but will also improve our locational data and allow us to quickly capture usable and, in many cases, more accurate locational data for use in our systems. Capturing this information is critical to sound, holistic environmental management. How does the project build on “lessons learned” from prior experience?

Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources has years of experience developing processes and software applications for tracking permit applications as well as related investigations, complaints, and enforcement actions. Matt Blunt, Missouri’s recently elected governor, has initiated a comprehensive overhaul of state government organizational structure and business processes. The governor, legislature, state CIO, and department director have identified improvement of the permitting process as the Department of Natural Resources’ top priority. Since January 2005, the Department has been analyzing existing processes and systems in order to determine which processes are functioning efficiently, which are not, and why. We chose the Permit Assistant as an initial step in the improvement of this process. We plan to leverage the solutions we have seen implemented in other states and, using spatial technology, adapt the concept to improve our own process. Clearly describe the quantifiable improvements in environmental outcomes expected to result from implementation of this innovation.

By enabling facilities to identify if the area selected for a new operation/facility has more stringent environmental restrictions, this innovation will allow them to avoid costly investments in planning and development in areas where permits could ultimately be subject to delays or restrictive covenants. This should also result in a reduced concentration of facilities in areas already subject to stricter environmental controls. The implementation of a Web-based system to expedite and guide the permit application process will reduce human errors and the amount of time required for permit research, evaluation, and issuance. A simpler and more efficient process will also increase regulatory compliance. Clearly describe any measurable improvements in administrative efficiency and program operational costs that may result from the program.

The implementation of the Permit Assistant will reduce the burden on permit staff and customer service personnel. Online permit applications will reduce the amount of data entry performed by department staff. The project will also reduce the costs of paper, postage, printing, and travel associated with the existing manual (paper-based) process. Initially, there may be an increased workload due to the time required to learn a new application and the workshops, newsletters, and other PR efforts necessary to inform/educate the regulated community. Clearly describe the likely saving in costs and efficiency for the permit holders/regulated entities resulting from implementation of this innovation.

A consistent, well-documented, and easily accessible process will reduce the cost of engineering consultations required to make determinations on the type of permits required for operation. Also, online permit application will increase the accuracy of permit applications and help reduce the fees charged for obtaining the information necessary to issue a permit. What are the public involvement processes that will be used to ensure public knowledge of and participation in the process?

The Department of Natural Resources routinely conducts open forums and/or commission meetings with regulated entities to make announcements and hear concerns/suggestions. We will ask advocacy groups (AIM, RegForm, MoCC, Municipal League, Sierra Club) and knowledgeable applicants to review and beta test the system. The department would use its printed and online newsletter, its quarterly magazine, email listservs, and news releases to alert the public to the new system. In addition to these measures, all appropriate staff will be advised to recommend the application to entities calling for assistance. If applicable, what are the factors that will be taken into consideration in the design and implementation of the project as it relates to concerns in communities with environmental justice issues?

Environmental justice issues present a unique challenge that must be handled on a case-by-case basis at this time. Guaranteeing Measures and Accountability What are the indicators of environmental improvement that will be used to show environmental improvement and is the relationship to the specified outcome goal clear.

The department believes this project will increase regulatory compliance by making requirements more widely available, presenting them in a format that is easy to understand, and processing applications more quickly and less expensively. Increased compliance will lead directly to the following stated strategic goals of the department: How and when will the baseline measurements be developed?

Baseline measurements will be determined, in collaboration with media staff, during the development of the business case for the project. Performance tracking and progress evaluation will commence at the completion of Phase II (Permit Assistant Implementation). What is the plan, timeline, and commitment for measuring and evaluating how well the project meets its goals and objectives?

The department plans to measure and evaluate the success of the project using reporting requirements that are currently in place. The department submits quarterly performance reports to the governor containing items such as number/type of permits issued and average response times. Similar regular reports are submitted to the commissions for all of the environmental media. OAC also submits monthly reports to EPA detailing their customer service actions. What are the expected short-term (within one to three years) measurable results to be obtained through this innovation and how will they be measured?

The department plans to measure usage of the Permit Assistant by examining web usage logs. Regular reporting requirements already in place will measure a reduction in permit application response times as well as the strategic goals of the department outlined in The percentage of online permit applications should increase for each environmental entity as online submittal is implemented. The project plan will also include an optional short survey as part of the Permit Assistant which will provide constant user feedback and allow users to make suggestions for improvement. What are the expected long-term measurable results to be obtained through this innovation, how will they be measured, and what is the time span for those results?

The department plans to use this project as another significant step towards a consolidation of environmental data and processes. We believe shifting the attitude of the department to that of environment problem-solvers will be reflected in every aspect of our operation including a number of current and planned projects. Within four years we expect to have at least four permit applications online (two of them capable of automatic processing) and provide ad hoc reporting capabilities to the public on environmental data. Transferring Innovation What methods will be used to document and publicize the outcomes and methods of this innovation and make the information available to other jurisdictions?

The department will include in its project plan, a goal of disseminating information regarding the project via member organizations such as ECOS and the National Governor’s Association, as well as creating a Web page that provides public access to project information such as procedure manuals, business process diagrams, project plans, and lessons learned. Additionally, the application will be developed using J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) technology using a “templated” approach which allows business logic to be created by users. This will allow the system to be deployed on a variety of operating systems using any popular relational database for information storage. The informational Web page will include an email link where other jurisdictions may request the application’s source code (this will not be made publicly available in order to prevent misuse by companies who market to government entities). What is the potential for widespread application or use of the tool/approach as a model for “next generation” environmental protection?

The Permit Assistant will represent the “next generation” of environmental protection by creating a “roadmap” approach to meeting regulatory requirements. All environmental requirements will be simultaneously evaluated rather than presenting different information and processes for each media. How will the application of this innovation be used to promote organizational system change, or develop a culture of innovative environmental problem-solving as a “way of doing business” within the state or more broadly?

As mentioned earlier, our state is undergoing a transition. New leadership has been promoting the “problem-solving” attitude since election/appointment. This innovation will provide the EPA, state legislature, regulated entities, and department staff with a clear message of a change in business practices. The project will also change operating procedures for our Outreach and Assistance Center. OAC personnel will now have an additional tool to offer regulated entities and access to spatial data while in the field. The reduction in phone calls and field visits will allow them to respond more quickly to requests for assistance and expand the types of assistance they offer. What commitments can the proposing state make to provide consultation and mentoring to other states wishing to adopt similar innovations?

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is willing to provide up to a one-day seminar/presentation up to one day per month to any jurisdiction wishing to adopt a similar innovation (out-of-state travel expenses must be paid by the requesting party). The department will also make the project manager available for answering general questions or mentoring on future joint ventures.

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