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Collaborative Problem-Solving

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a long tradition of using collaborative processes to address environmental challenges.  Today we are building on our history to create an Agency that:

Before examining the tools available to support collaborative decision making, it may be useful to establish context by reviewing EPA’s Public Involvement and Collaboration Spectrum (PDF) (8 pp, 141K, About PDF).

Following are some collaboration resources:

Collaboration Training

Course Description

Better Decisions through Consultation and Collaboration (PDF) (141 pp, 2.9MB, About PDF ) or Table of Contents. This manual was designed to help EPA staff and managers who develop regulations, policies, programs and cross media or cross geographic initiatives to improve agency practices for engaging the public through a guide to best practices for consultation and collaboration. The manual explains how to: (1) chose the appropriate level of public consultation or collaboration processes; (2) design those consultation or collaboration processes; (3) implement the activities; (4) incorporate the information gained into decision making; (5) incorporate lessons learned from the consultation or collaboration processes into the next processes conducted.

EPA's Legal Framework Supports Collaboration (PDF) (20 pp, 872K, About PDF) - This August 2007 document demonstrates that EPA's enabling statutes and cross-agency laws provide a strong framework for collaborative approaches with partners, stakeholders and the public to protect human health and the environment.

Solving Environmental Problems through Collaboration (PDF) (9 pp, 66K, About PDF)  -- the 2005 result of a study team’s examining the scientific and Agency literature on collaboration, as well as nearly 200 EPA case studies.  That study identified seven “keys” to successful collaborative problem-solving.

EPA Tools & Services for Collaborative Problem-Solving   (documents, fact sheets, databases, websites and contracting mechanisms)

Collaboration and Partnership (111 descriptions of 2007 activities)

From 2004 through 2008, EPA actively participated in implementing the Executive Order on Cooperative Conservation [13352]. For EPA, cooperative conservation was collaboration and partnership, stewardship and sustainability. EPA's more than 80 partnerships with businesses, communities, state and local governments, and other organizations, enable flexible, collaborative, market driven solutions that can deliver measurable environmental results.

The January 12, 2009 Memorandum of Understanding - Partnership for Cooperative Conservation established a framework among the six organizations [DOI, EPA, USDA, DOD, CEQ and DOC-NOAA] to enable continued collaboration across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries for natural resources and environmental management.

Several of the cooperative conservation working groups developed web resources that support collaborative problem solving:

EPA is now implementing activities in four thematic areas: (1) build expert knowledge, skills, and capacity; (2) develop collaborative leadership at all levels through recruitment and career development; (3) align planning, budgeting, and accountability systems to foster collaboration; and (4) target priority environmental problems. EPA anticipates that work in these four strategic areas will enable the Agency to take collaborative problem-solving to new heights, enabling it to more effectively deliver cleaner air, water, and land to the American people.

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