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Lean Government Initiative

What is Lean?

The Lean Government initiative involves comprehensively mapping processes to define and understand what is really happening now and identifying "waste" (as defined in context of Lean analysis) in those processes. The Lean Government initiative helps programs to formulate plans to eliminate waste, making sure the process results in timely and predictable decisions.

Lean helps organizations to streamline how work gets done and eliminate waste. Through the use of Lean tools a state agency can:

  • Eliminate or dramatically reduce backlogs
  • Reduce lead times
  • Decrease the complexity of processes
  • Improve the quality of applications and consistency of reviews or inspections
  • Free up more staff time for "mission critical" work
  • Improve staff morale and process transparency

Although Lean originated in manufacturing operations, the tools have been successfully applied in organizations across all sectors, including the government.

Using Lean, state environmental agencies throughout the country have improved quality, cost effectiveness, service delivery and responsiveness to the public, without compromising environmental protection.

Lean methods are highly adaptable and could be used in a myriad of processes ranging from rulemaking to processing of grants and contracts.

Lean at DEM

Improving customer service is a top priority of the DEM. In the regulatory side of the agency, the key to improving customer service is to provide clear, predictable, and transparent decisions. Lean can help achieve this by:

  • Minimizing unnecessary steps and variability to provide more timely and consistent outcomes.
  • Identifying areas of subjective decision-making and work to convert to objective decisions that are transparent and predictable.
  • Maximizing the contributions of DEM staff by making sure the work assigned is consistent with the best use of the staff's skill and time.
  • Communicating process flow and response timelines to provide transparency on what we do, and some firm expectations on what will happen and when it will happen.


Some of the tools that have been, or soon will be, used at DEM include:

  • Kaizen Events - Kaizen means "to change for the good of all." Kaizen activity is often focused in rapid process improvement events (kaizen events) that bring together a cross-functional team for two to five days to study a specific process and immediately implement process changes.
  • 6S (Sort, Sweep, Sanitize, Straighten, Sustain, Safety) - is a method to improve and sustain workplace organization using visual controls and information systems.
  • Standard Work - is a method of describing work or a task in the most effective sequential steps.
  • Key Performance Indicators - help an organization define and measure progress towards organizational goals using quantifiable measurements.
  • Roles & Responsibilities - is a technique used to identify activities and/or decisions and the individuals accountable, responsible, consulted, and/or informed for those activities or decisions.


Additional information is available in the EPA Lean Starter Kit which can be found here:




Upcoming Events

  • Lean Elements Training (Summer 2014)


Completed Events

  • Site Remediation - Kaizen Event #1 (November 2012)
  • Wetlands Preliminary Determination Process - Kaizen Event #2 (January 2013)
  • Air Preconstruction Minor Source - Kaizen Event #3 (February 2013)
  • UST Fund � Kaizen Event #4 (November 2013)
  • Natural Resources Warehouse � Kaizen Event #5 (February 2014)
  • Marine Fisheries � Kaizen Event #6 (May 2014)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES