Environmental Protection Agency

Agency Reinvention Activities

Getting Started

After President Clinton's March 3, 1993, directive on reinventing the government, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved quickly to capture the spirit of reform in an internal reinvention effort. Administrator Browner committed more than 450 full-time employees from across the agency to EPA's National Performance Review Team (NPRT).

In planning a new EPA, the Administrator charged NPRT to focus on the principles of the governmentwide reinvention drive. The EPA's review thus emphasized four themes: cutting red tape, putting customers first, empowering employees to get results, and cutting back to basics. These themes yielded specific proposals that should fundamentally change the way EPA pursues its mission.

To facilitate such fundamental change, NPRT directed a variety of initiatives to generate involvement and activism throughout the agency. The Administrator herself encouraged all employees to submit ideas for improvement, and in addition, NPRT reviewed countless responses to questionnaires designed to solicit comments from EPA personnel, business interests, and local communities. The team likewise combed through records of past seminars, conferences, and reports for worthy recommendations lost or ignored.

To promote more hands-on participation, NPRT sponsored forums at several levels. The Administrator held a town meeting with Vice President Gore that covered agencywide concerns ranging from procurement to hiring to enforcement. Focus groups provided opportunities for more extensive discussions, as program specialists and managers from throughout EPA met with relevant NPRT personnel to flesh out their suggestions. EPA's internal review team remains committed to discussing the recommendations that emerge from its cumulative analysis with all parties that have contributed input.

Reinvention Teams

To create a new EPA, its review effort established an array of teams. While each assumed a specific, defined role, together they formed an interdisciplinary force. The Senior Leadership Council consisted of EPA's top political and career executives. This group, which will remain active through the entire course of the reinvention program, advised the Administrator on NPR planning and implementation.

The Process and Policy Teams, consisting of 19 groups in total, drew members from all employee grade levels and all agency branches-- headquarters, regional offices, program centers, and laboratories. With sizes ranging from 18 to 25 people, the groups were charged with developing in-depth reports on specific topic areas. The topics included:

Awards/Recognition Workforce Capacity

Ecosystem Protection

Environmental Justice

Environmental Technology

Extramural Resource Management

Financial Management

Intergovernmental Partnerships

Internal Communications Workforce Diversity

Management Development

Performance Management

Permit Streamlining

Planning and Budgeting

Pollution Prevention

Position Classification

Quality Management

Quality Science

Regulatory Development

The Leadership Team, consisting of about 20 employees from all agency levels, provided direction and guidance to the process and policy teams. In addition, it assumed responsibility for those cross-cutting issues that lay outside the domain of individual parties.

Finally, the Quality Advisory Group offered consultation, facilitation, and logistical support to all other NPRT components, in particular the Senior Leadership Council.

Lessons Learned

EPA's internal review identified several principles it should instill, wherever possible, to better fulfill its mission. First, the organization must commit to performance measurement. EPA has already made progress here--Administrator Browner recently accepted the recommendation of an earlier EPA improvement team to establish environmental goals that will provide the American people with very real means to gauge EPA performance. NPRT's findings indicate a need to continue in this positive direction.

The agency must likewise devote itself to reinvigorated customer service. In the coming months, EPA will implement a comprehensive outreach at the Administrator's behest to strengthen ties with its constituents state and local governments, private sector organizations, and the general public. Their input will yield the best concrete plans to boost customer satisfaction.

Improving relations with outside sources must include a drive to empower partners. By decentralizing its programs and regulations, injecting competition wherever applicable, and exerting leverage on market forces, EPA can create openings for collaboration with the larger community focused on environmental protection. Working together, each accomplishes more.

Looking Forward

EPA is already implementing several recommendations reshaping its environmental goals and regulatory process.

Administrator Browner recognizes that genuine change depends not just on policy


but on the culture underlying them. To realize the agency's new vision, the Administrator and her management team will not only lead implementation of the present proposals, but will also ensure that the EPA continues its employee outreach efforts. Public forums, surveys, and focus groups will become agency mainstays. EPA has established an NPR implementation steering committee made up of senior management and members from EPA's internal NPR team. This group will provide a focal point for future suggestions and a means to guarantee monitoring and accountability as well. EPA will continue to reinvent itself even as it comes closer still to fulfilling its mission.

Return To Report Index

Who We Are |||Latest Additions |||Initiatives |||Customer Service |||News Room |||Accomplishments |||Awards |||"How To" Tools |||Library |||Web Links

Reinvention Comments
Technical Comments