ADEQ’s ePortal system has been implemented over time by the Water and Air offices and has been used with increasing effectiveness by both. During the last year, the Office of Water Quality (OWQ) has taken the plunge to use the system for entire segments of its permitting process and is in the final stages of going to a full electronic review for all permit types. Perhaps an even better story is how this tool can be used by a small group to enhance its process. During the last year, OWQ’s Planning section has implemented an ePortal review process for short-term activity authorizations (STAAs). The transition from paperwork to electronic review was driven by Lazendra Hairston, the STAA lead, working on her own initiative to implement a useful tool. An internal support team helped her in this effort, but she was the driver from the idea to implementation. She is working with others in her team to integrate the invoicing system to further improve work flow. This has led to improvements in the review process time and in accuracy of the review. The ePortal process also helps with necessary expedited reviews, such as responses to emergency situations, and also can result in a rapid approval critical to public and private projects, i.e., county and highway road construction projects, infrastructure improvement and construction projects, oil and gas pipeline and production site development.
Results to Date:
Implementation of an electronic submission and review of authorizations has resulted in more timely, efficient reviews. As of the end of October, the team is on pace to complete more reviews than in the previous calendar year. In addition, electronic routing has given staff more time to focus on the substantive portion of the review and enabled staff to tackle several challenging projects in a timely manner.
This approach has provided line of sight for the process that has enabled staff monitor reviews (particularly those that are time sensitive) and to identify additional opportunities for process improvements. This has become a dynamic process.
Communication with applicants has improved greatly as staff are able to identify precisely where the STAA is in review and, for those submitting electronically, even allow the applicant to track the progress from their own user profile.