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Digital Services Pilot Teams Help EPA Reach Goals

Internal task forces are helping the agency develop efficient online portals.

Grim moments like the fallout from the Office of Personnel Management cyberattack are exemplary of why the federal government needs to vastly overhaul its technology infrastructure. Actually seeing the benefits of doing so in action, though, can be just as powerful. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set up digital-services pilot teams that have expedited the agency’s plan to track the movement of hazardous waste through a new online portal, making its outdated paper system obsolete.

The pilot teams collaborated with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and the General Services Administration’s 18F to speed up the portal's development, FedScoop reports. The new system has been dubbed the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest (or simply eManifest). Although EPA missed Congress' deadline for launching eManifest due to a lack of sufficient funds allocated for the project, the pilot teams' work has guided the initiative to a place the agency is comfortable with. 

"We’re very pleased to have actual code developed and available," EPA CIO Ann Dunkin told FedTech. "I think we’re showing great progress and we’ve gotten good feedback from [the Office of Management of Budget]. We’re looking forward to getting feedback from our colleagues on the Hill, but it’s not done yet." In addition, FedScoop notes that the pilot teams played a role in the preliminary release of EPA's E-Enterprise for the Environment portal:

Separately, EPA tapped the pilot teams' expertise as it launched an early version of the online E-Enterprise for the Environment portal two weeks ago. Officials hope the platform, currently still in development, will eventually make it easier for businesses and state and tribal regulators to share and report regulatory data.

This streamlined approach could be used as an example by state and federal teams that are looking to make their processes less cumbersome, FedScoop adds. From there, agencies can determine the level of funding based on the pilots they develop — a process that EPA’s Office of Environmental Information will lend its insight to. According to Dunkin, these are crucial steps.

“That’s a really important message that the government has trouble with,” Dunkin explained to FedScoop. “It’s OK to figure out something that doesn’t work — as long as you figure it out quickly.”

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Oct 13 2015

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