DEP ISSUES TRANSFORMATION PLAN TO STEER REFORM EFFORTS
(10/P104) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection today released its Transformation Plan, another significant step in the Department's continuing efforts to operate more efficiently while ensuring effective protection of New Jersey's environment.
"This document establishes the process to transform the DEP into a more streamlined organization that maximizes the abilities of our fiscal and human resources to protect New Jersey's environment and natural resources," Commissioner Bob Martin said. "For the sake of both the environment and economy, we cannot continue to operate as we always have. We need to take bold steps to change how the DEP operates."
The Transformation Plan builds upon the Vision and Priorities documents that Commissioner Martin issued over the summer as blueprints for the DEP to return to its core mission of protecting the environment while playing a positive role in the economic growth of the state.
Recognizing that additional resources will not be available in the current economic climate, the Department is eliminating non-critical functions, streamlining business processes, leveraging information technology and relying on the expertise of its constituents - both internal and external - to cut the costs of compliance while ensuring maximum protection.
The Transformation Plan outlines a series of specific steps for the DEP's management team to follow as it develops reforms for each of the agency's major program areas: Natural and Historic Resources, Land Use Management, Water Resource Management, Climate and Environmental Management, Site Remediation, Compliance and Enforcement, and Economic Growth and Green Energy.
"The DEP has long had a broad and diverse mission," said Deputy Commissioner Irene Kropp, who is spearheading the DEP's transformation. "We will continue to vigorously protect the environment and provide for recreational opportunities, but we will do so with clearly defined focus and direction, as well as metrics to evaluate how well we are doing. To achieve our goals, we need input and support from all who are willing to step up and work with us."
The Transformation Plan tasks senior leadership and every staff member to think creatively in order to become better problem-solvers. Specifically, the plan:
- Calls on all assistant commissioners and managers to thoroughly analyze all organizational structures and business processes with the goal of achieving Governor Chris Christie's Executive Orders on reducing regulatory red tape and bringing common sense to decision making processes. This process may result in elimination of non-critical or redundant operations, with allocation of staff to areas where they could do more good.
- Requires that all managers and staff participate in customer service training programs to become more responsive, head off potential conflicts, and improve communications skills. The process calls on managers to develop sets of metrics to evaluate the services they provide and determine where change is needed.
- Establishes a process for the vetting of issues and development of solutions to problems specific to each of the DEP's program areas. Commissioner Martin is urging all employees to think boldly with regard to suggestions for changes, and to recognize that transformation is an evolution of ideas and processes, not a stagnant event.
- Calls for each of the program areas to work closely with stakeholders, prioritize and execute action items, develop potential information technology solutions, and prepare white papers that recommend additional changes to business practices.
After a summer of transformation meeting sessions with DEP staff, the solutions-development process has already begun with senior management retreats and will continue through the fall and into next year with follow-up meetings as the DEP fine-tunes its transformation priorities. This process will engage a team of 20 to 30 stakeholders representing constituents such as environmental advocacy groups, business leaders, local government leaders, and developers.
"Changing the agency's work culture is a top priority," Commissioner Martin said. "Our employees already are doing a stellar job of embracing the objectives of transformation and providing input. The process will be one of gradual improvement, but there is urgency to the reforms we're pursuing."
To read the Transformation Plan, visit: http://nj.gov/dep/commissioner/2010transformationplan.pdf.