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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 11/30/00
/00
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994

DEP IS FIRST STATE AGENCY TO RECEIVE QUALITY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today accepted on behalf of his agency the Governor's Bronze Award for Performance Excellence during the 12th annual Quality Conference in New Brunswick.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the first department in state government to receive the award, which is presented annually by a partnership between the nonprofit, Quality New Jersey Inc., and the NJ Commerce & Economic Growth Commission to recognize businesses and organizations that have successfully instituted internal systems for continuous improvement in the quality of services to their constituents.

"I congratulate DEP for setting the pace for excellence in state government services," said Governor Christie Whitman. "As DEP marks its 30th year as a state agency and as a national leader in environmental management, all New Jerseyans can be proud to live in a state that has effective and exemplary programs to protect our air, water and open spaces. DEP's many accomplishments are helping to make New Jersey the best place to live, work and raise a family."

Applicants for the Governor's award are subject to an intense, week-long site visit by a group of external examiners. Award applicants are judged on the same criteria used in the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards program, and the President's Quality Awards program for federal agencies.

"I'm extremely proud of our dedicated employees who work hard on a daily basis to improve the quality of our environment and the level of services to all our constituents - from our parks visitors to our permit applicants," said Shinn. "The transition to results-based management, where the outcome is paramount, has been successful, and it's gratifying to have our many efforts recognized in this way. The Whitman Administration has put New Jersey on the leading edge of environmental management, which heightens the level of scrutiny as well as expectations. So we greatly appreciate this positive recognition and reinforcement, and today reaffirm our commitment to continuously strive for measurable achievements in environmental management through service excellence."

The team of examiners cited the DEP as a leader within and outside of the United States in transforming environmental management from the traditional focus on bureaucratic benchmarks, such as the number of permits issued or fines imposed, to a more holistic, results-based approach that emphasizes pollution prevention and attainment of specific environmental goals, such as cleaner air and water.

During the Whitman Administration, DEP has implemented a strategic planning process, with a greater emphasis on partnerships and the use of environmental indicators to measure attainment of specified goals. According to QNJ, DEP's efforts to build an open and effective government represent "an innovative, organization-wide initiative designed to significantly enhance the fundamental quality of its regulatory, compliance and administrative operations while also enhancing the quality of work life for the department's employees."

The annual Quality Conference and awards program is sponsored by Quality New Jersey Inc. QNJ is dedicated to promoting continuous quality improvements in business, education, health care, the environment, government and other sectors of the state through its awards program, seminars, conferences, and other opportunities to learn effective techniques and share successful strategies. It is comprised of quality management experts, business leaders, health care professionals, service industry leaders and representatives from many other segments of the state's economy.

DEP also was recognized this year as one of four finalists in the nation's 2000 Public Service Excellence Award Program. In 1999, Commissioner Shinn received the Water Resources Award in Government from the regional Water Resources Association for his effective watershed-based initiative to improve the state's water quality. In 1998, Shinn was named "Cabinet Member of the Year" by the NJ Conference of Mayors for establishing highly productive partnerships with municipalities that have improved the delivery of services to local governments. That same year, Shinn received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology for his work in advancing results-based environmental management and environmental technology. He has also been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Council of States for addressing regional smog issues, specifically, ozone transport.

In 1997, DEP received top honors from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable for its holistic approach to pollution prevention. DEP also has won awards for its nationally-recognized brownfields program to promote urban redevelopment. It is annually is cited by the Natural Resource Defense Council for its model program for monitoring water quality at the beaches, and by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration for leading the nation in efforts to restore and expand shellfish harvesting waters. In addition, this September, DEP's air permitting program was recognized by "Civic.Com" magazine as one of the nation's top 50 e-government initiatives.

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