In January 2017, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Becky Keogh created the Office of Compliance and Continuous Improvement (OCCI). The purpose of the office is two-fold. One primary goal is the development of a compliance management system with the goal of providing the agency a clear and accountable process for agency legal obligations and commitments as part of overall succession management. Another primary goal of this new office is to implement a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) management system that will enable continuous improvement to become part of the everyday culture at ADEQ. A strategic plan for implementing LSS has been created by the OCCI and approved by Director Keogh.
The plan focuses on three primary objectives: (1) to create LSS projects to improve processes; (2) to train ADEQ staff on LSS tools and concepts; and (3) to initiate visual management to make processes and metrics visible. In February, Director Keogh challenged ADEQ to develop SMART goals to line up with agency strategic goals. The OCCI made training sessions available for every ADEQ office, section, and employee to facilitate the development of agency strategic goals and SMART goals. The SMART goals became the foundation for ADEQ’s LSS program.
Results to Date:
To date, early successes have been gained internally and in multi-agency efforts. ADEQ, in partnership with U.S. EPA, conducted value stream analysis and efficiency improvements in its enforcement processes. In addition, a cross-agency effort with the Arkansas Crime Lab (ACL) resulted in improvement and identification of time reduction opportunities in personnel hiring processes. ADEQ, ACL, and Arkansas Department of Human Services have partnered to apply process-driven efficiency improvement lessons at ADEQ and ACL to the state Foster Care program.
Six LSS training decks have been completed, and ADEQ employees have been trained on five of these six trainings, including 92% and 84% of agency employees on Lean 101 and SMART goals, respectively. One section of the agency has been using visual management since the beginning of 2017, while other sections of the agency are transitioning to visual management. ADEQ is continuing to implement this continuous improvement plan across agency programs. This work is also advanced in partnership with the newly charted Arkansas Government Transformation Office created by Governor Hutchinson.