In 2011, MassDEP undertook three major initiatives to increase agency efficiency in order to help make up for staff losses and continually increasing workload. One of the most promising is a transformation of MassDEP's outdated information technology (IT) systems. Not only has MassDEP identified the increasing need for improvements to agency IT for years, but improvements in this area were recently flagged by external stakeholders and agency personnel as perhaps the best way to drastically improve agency efficiency within current reduced staffing levels. The transformation will boost performance, but it is also intended to serve as a nation-leading example of using high technology to protect the environment.
MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell has stated that his goals for this initiative are "to have paperless, online permitting in place in three years, make it easy for citizens to get information online 24/7 about the environmental conditions in their neighborhoods, and greatly enhance our enforcement capabilities by taking advantage of new technologies, such as remote sensors." The IT transformation at MassDEP will serve as a pilot for expanding these systems and services to MassDEP's sister agencies within the Energy & Environment Secretariat.
IT Strategic Planning & Roadmap
In early October 2011, MassDEP took a major step toward becoming a more modern and efficient agency when it entered into a contract with xFact, a strategic information technology consulting firm out of North Andover, Mass. Over the next four months, xFact assisted the agency with a strategic planning process to review high-level business processes, agency IT systems, how IT is currently used, and how information technology can more be effectively utilized by the agency, the public and regulated entities.
Under the leadership of MassDEP's Victoria Phillips and Tom Skinner from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, xFact conducted information-gathering and visioning meetings with a broad range of personnel from MassDEP and throughout the Executive Office, as well as with some external stakeholders. On February 3, 2012, xFact delivered to MassDEP an actionable roadmap called the MassDEP's Environmental Information and Public Access System Executive Abstract file size 1MB which includes a set of discrete projects to be advanced during the implementation phase of this major IT upgrade initiative.
Capital Funding Proposal for IT Transformation
On February 6, 2012, MassDEP submitted an "investment brief" to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A&F) seeking the capital funding needed to implement the IT Transformation. In the Summer of 2012 the first year funding was approved. Meanwhile, MassDEP will begin significant work within the agency for 2012 to pave the way for implementation of the IT transformation, including further aligning of agency work practices across programs and regions, and establishing improved agency-wide data standards.
Download Executive Summary:
MassDEP's Environmental Information and Public Access System Executive Abstract file size 1MB