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Meeting Summary

Project XL Process Reengineering
Stakeholder Meeting #2
May 20, 1998

More Information Loops

Meeting participants discussed potential underlying issues and causes for more information loops. Many of these issues appear to relate to staff perception about XL, incentives for timely responses, turf, uncertainty, fear of decision-making.

  1. What is the minimum/complete set of data to illustrate value of the project?
  2. Info loops often originate because of need to protect turf and individual program responsibilities.
  3. Loops cause difficulty in accountability for decision-makers especially multimedia.
  4. Cultural issues such as concerns about budget, staffing may create more info loops.
  5. What's in it for the regions/states?
  6. Meeting attendance etc. burdens stakeholders. Is there assistance for participation?
  7. Reluctancy of staff hinders coordination because XL seen as external.
  8. Staff see XL as a deviation from rules and regulations which define and support programs. This causes staff to become leery.
  9. There is a perception on part of industry that statutes (litigation, decrees etc.) are obstacles. How will industry actions affect legal statutes/decisions in progress?
  10. Massachusetts is streamlining and eliminating regulatory process?? Questioning assumptions is very effective technique.
  11. Successful technique in Mass. was to separate the staff from the issues.
  12. How do we define success? (E.g. community involvement) Who defines success?
  13. Must be a system in place to monitor and evaluate success?
  14. Some offices promote staff that have demonstrated success.
  15. " XL means an exception to the rule" attitude serves as a barrier.
  16. Lack of accountability also a barrier.
  17. Must ensure that a good product means success.
  18. Goal is to keep flexibility in XL but to put some structure into it.
  19. Program offices may not get info up front. This causes questions later.
  20. Sponsors may still be creative as long as the rules are clear.
  21. What is a product? EPA should expand the definition of "product".
  22. Cost benefit analysis should be considered in determining success.
  23. The exercise of going thru the process may be one of the benefits.
  24. EPA is confronted with diametrically opposed notion that process must remain flexible versus completely structured. Process should be structured in a way which expedites decision-making, solutions, and FPA Development .

Federal/state Coordination

The discussion of federal/state coordination focused on coordination within EPA as well as coordination between EPA and states. Participants discussed issues such as a central coordinating person, champions at high level,tracking systems, schedules, and OR authority to make decisions.

  1. Process could benefit from full time XL champions who set meetings, comments on time, move process along)
    - Others should be devoted full time. Managers should cooperate & give support (e.g.. 6 month detail)
  2. Staff turnover hinders coordination. Continuity is enhanced by responsible passing of baton.
  3. In drafting FPA, one person should be responsible for handling comments, coordination etc.
  4. For the kick-off meeting there should be a manual stating ground rules and structure.
  5. There should be a champion at political level to serve the cross program decision-making role.
  6. Internal review process for EPA should be limited and expedited. "Get it out the door"
  7. EPA culture seeks 100% consensus. Projects should not be hindered because of lack of 100% consensus.
  8. High level support- There should be someone at political level charged with resolving conflicts and making decisions.
  9. Agency should appropriate needed resources.
  10. XL is not included as part of EPA position descriptions which means lack of mechanism for accountability.
  11. There should be a schedule which tracks the process between EPA and the state but not at the expense of stakeholder involvement.
  12. There should be an agreement on a schedule for both state and EPA. We should define a model for schedules/tracking systems but avoid a guidance document.
  13. Model for state/federal coordination should include all participants.
  14. What is the stakeholder process? Does it need to be an obstacle?
  15. Should review the State of Oregon Healthcare model and other models for federal/state coordination.
  16. Establishment of timetables should not be done at the expense of quality.
  17. Ownership- Who is responsible for managing stakeholder process. We should build into the process resources, knowledge of stakeholders to help steer process.
  18. There should be joint management for process across all interested & affected stakeholder groups.
  19. Is consensus an internal EPA or within the stakeholder process?
  20. Some regions have had minimal coordination problems with states. Regions are concerned that HQ and managers are not making decisions and moving the process along.
  21. OR or the program offices should have authority to make decisions.
  22. Regional staff participated more freely when they realized that accountability was no issue.
  23. Florida's DEP mirrors EPA- EPA and states should coordinate/communicate reviews to avoid different outcomes and save time and resources. In "should be" process we should identify a central coordinating point.
  24. Regions should work with HQ to iron out issues such as statutory barriers early in the process. EPA HQ should be explicit up-front about what we want.
  25. The goal should be to "Do it once, do it together, and use a common work process". There should be an agreed upon map for a work process.
  26. XL troubles are largely internal.
  27. Many managers are not willing to stick to time frames. If a program office misses a deadline then the process should continue without them.
  28. Some managers are willing to make decisions but issues may not reach these managers in a timely fashion.
  29. Team members should understand that as a team member one is expected to deliver in a timely fashion.

Stakeholder Involvement

Stakeholder involvement was discussed throughout the meeting. The participants had concerns about the procedure for choosing and involving stakeholders, environmental justice (EJ) issues, national and local stakeholder roles for environmental groups, and ground rules for involvement including development of consensus.

  1. Is stakeholder involvement industry driven versus agency driven? What are the implications of this?
  2. There is concern that direct versus broad participation creates "elite" stakeholder groups.
  3. Need to clarify how stakeholders are chosen.
  4. Industries confront a dilemma by bringing in stakeholders early for concepts that do not develop into proposals.
  5. We need to identify incentives that would provide a baseline to measure success.
  6. Environmental Justice (EJ) concerns should be met without entire stakeholder group attempting to understand the legal and procedural issues related to EJ.
  7. Must be a balanced and accountable technique for advancing all concerns. Good decision-making identifies measures for determining success.
  8. Cannot extract EJ concerns out of a stakeholder process.
  9. We should examine the stakes of the stakeholders involved in the process.
  10. The risk of early stakeholder involvement may be perceived versus real.
  11. EJ should be an educational piece of this process. It will help determine if we are doing a good enough job of involving all concerns.
  12. Companies must be willing to be diverse in techniques and approaches (e.g. coffee shop discussions etc).
  13. Companies need information to suggest techniques and new idea for stakeholder involvement (E.g. case studies, BMP's examples).
  14. What incentives beyond superior environmental performance? Is this a catalyst for strong stakeholder-sponsor relation?
  15. Many publics must be served and conversations with stakeholders must begin early.
  16. Issues should be deferred to local stakeholder groups. National groups do not always understand the local issues.
  17. Regional agencies should apply concepts of environmental equity in the region and not expect local groups to carry out requirements.
  18. Non-traditional groups should be included in process may demonstrate different techniques which complement XL.


This section focused on the lack of a clear EPA decision-making process. Meeting participants identified similar issues and causes such as the need to empower and reward staff, one specific decision-maker, a transparent process for decision-making, stakeholder involvement in decision-making.

  1. Process should encourage a champion decision-maker for Regions and HQ
  2. Stakeholders need one contact; this contact should have access to decision-maker.
  3. Ground rules should be established (e.g. what is consensus; minority opinion)
  4. Decision loop needs to include Congress.
  5. Need incentives and rewards for staff working on XL.
  6. Must empower the EPA negotiator or be clear what authority they do have)
  7. Rummler-brach & RACI
  8. Decision process should be transparent and clearly spelled out
  9. Staff are often hesitant about raising issues.
  10. Enforcement trump ability.
  11. Stakeholders can ne employed to shine light on agency decision-making.
  12. Should be deference to stakeholders consensus on what to do.
  13. National environmental should be resources to local-avoid undercutting locals
  14. There should be a practical way to incorporate the input of all stakeholder groups
  15. Better coordination among stakeholder groups (local, national, EJ)

XL Process Reengineering Phase II
SHOULD BE features of XL Process

In order to develop the ideal process, the group identified features and characteristics that should be inherent in the process.

  1. EPA should identify the minimum set of data necessary for project development in order that applicant may address necessary components prior to EPA review.
    - Friendly amendment- Identify universe of information necessary to support stakeholder/agency decision-making
  2. Process should be conducted by devoted full time staff.
  3. 6 months tops for initial agreements
  4. Process should involve all appropriate stakeholders
  5. All appropriate stakeholders should be involved in preproposal stage
  6. EPA should clearly define stakeholder process
  7. System should support & empower EPA staff
  8. Job performance measures that encourage risky decisions
  9. Multiple public input mechanisms
  10. Evaluate public input mechanisms
  11. Process should embody full partnership of all stakeholders because results/success should be defined by all partners
  12. measurable/verifiable performance outcomes
  13. single work process in each region
  14. process should discourage forum shopping
  15. Process should establish a single point of contact
  16. All participants in process should be resources for each other-this continues beyond XL
  17. Easily understood, streamlined transparent predictable
  18. Allow balance of power to accommodate stakeholder needs
  19. Each element of project is transparent & conveyed to decision-maker
  20. EPA should have tight time frames both overall and internal
  21. EPA should have drop dead dates for input
  22. EPA automatic elevation of disputes
  23. Regions should involve HQ Program offices early
  24. All questions by anyone should be fully addressed promptly
  25. Team should be formed early in the process
  26. Should be clear who does enforcement screen and when
  27. Aspire to once thru the process-people at table have sign-off authority
  28. Process understood & committed to by all involved in XL
  29. 100% agreement within EPA is not necessary to move agreements forward within EPA.
  30. Not reaching agreement is not failure. The value of the experiment is great and can assist in developing legislative and policy support for program
  31. Stakeholder groups should agree on ground rules including definition of consensus
  32. two way communication
  33. XL should integrate information ongoing program office structures/activities
  34. All EPA staff should be able to devote time to XL
  35. Financial Resources ( broadly construed) support for stakeholders (e.g. technical assistance)
    -look at broad source pool and watch out for conflicts
  36. more Transparency of participants' needs/concerns -no hidden agendas
  37. clarify "why's"
  38. soft landing for sponsors
  39. Respect for resources constraints of stakeholders
  40. clear delineation of relationship of EPA's decision-making to stakeholder process

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