For the last year, EEA and MassDEP have been working to upgrade their aging information technology (IT) system to become more efficient, transparent and reliable. As part of the funding request, the agencies were asked to quantify the “return-on-investment” (ROI) that the Commonwealth would receive if it made this investment in the Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access (EIPAS) Project. The initial review of the numbers is very encouraging for the EEA Secretariat, MassDEP and EIPAS.
The Commonwealth engaged an internationally-recognized consulting firm to develop the Return on Investment methodology for IT capital-funded projects. The consultant has now applied that methodology to five projects, including EIPAS. The EIPAS project team, in a five-week timeframe, worked with the consultant to apply and refine the ROI methodology against the EIPAS project. During this period, MassDEP staff provided analysis of efficiencies gained by previous IT application systems, and provided copies of studies performed by other states and U.S. EPA. The consultant also worked with each EEA agency to ensure that the EIPAS ROI analysis reflected the benefits to the Secretariat.
The analysis identified 22 key benefit categories from the EIPAS Project that included such items as:
- Better protection of the environment by using modern technologies, such as remote-sensing, GPS coordination, GIS mapping, and mobile tools;
- Quicker speed to market for business-development constituents given the streamlined application process;
- Streamlined compliance efforts for regulated entities (such as online data submission, and transparent communication of policy updates); and
- Reduced constituent costs for administrative visits and file reviews.
The analysis focused the ROI on two key core-benefit drivers: Improved Monitoring and Compliance, and Improved Permit Processing.
Improved Monitoring and Compliance benefits are derived from: enabling the use of mobile tools and remote monitoring tools; collecting and analyzing electronic data; and the online portal.
Improved Permit Processing benefits are derived from: online permit application submittal and review; streamlined permit approval logic and processing; online permit-status tracking; and the online portal.
The consultant predicts that EIPAS will yield $16-24 million in benefits per year. The projected five-year EIPAS project achieves a positive Return on Investment between years five and six of the project.
The strong ROI, along with the strategic plan and roadmap, provides a compelling story for the value of the EIPAS project, which is being reviewed for IT capital funding in fiscal year 2014.