Celebrating 25 Years of Success: National Environmental Performance Partnership System
By Douglas Benevento
Associate Deputy Administrator
In May 1995, EPA and the states entered into a joint agreement to establish the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS) and committed to direct resources to improve environmental results, allow for greater flexibility, enhance accountability, and measure progress. Now celebrating its 25th successful year, NEPPS continues to serve as the leading example for fostering the EPA, state, and tribal partnership.
Since its inception, NEPPS has made a critical impact toward strengthening the partnerships that serve as the cornerstone of the success in protecting our nation’s environment. These partnerships are reliant upon continued consultation, collaboration, and shared accountability among all parties to provide the most effective use of resources and innovation.
A great example of this partnership can be seen in EPA Region 1, comprised of the six New England states. For over 23 years, EPA Region 1 has negotiated Performance Partnership Agreements (PPAs) with all the New England state environmental agencies, using Performance Partnership Grants (PPGs) as the funding vehicle. With support from the Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, and senior leadership team, Region 1 has worked with the New England states to streamline grant processes, reduce reporting burden, maintain fiscal accountability, and enhance EPA/State collaboration.
The New England states needed to address budget shortfalls for environmental efforts. A request by the state of New Hampshire for help in eliminating waste through “lean” processes led to improvements and efficiencies in environmental work across New England. As a result of the lean events, a more streamlined process was implemented for PPA development and all six New England States expressed interest in piloting a new, two-year work plan process, jointly negotiated between EPA and State staff using SharePoint for further efficiency to implement changes in 2015.
Vincent Perelli of the NH Department of Environmental Services was a leader in convening all six New England states to commit to trying this new approach. The state partners worked with EPA Region 1 to design a new SharePoint site, which now serves as the E-Enterprise platform to conduct real-time, state work plan negotiations and provide the opportunity to spur program dialogue in a new way to allow codification of negotiated 2-year agreements in a single document. This was the first time that EPA New England used SharePoint for this type of E-Enterprise collaboration on such a large scale with external users. This involved significant time, effort and coordination within EPA and with state information technology offices to resolve issues as they emerged.
Despite the technical challenges of creating this new E-Enterprise approach, it has been very successful. A high level of interest has been shown nationally for using this model to improve joint strategic planning by EPA and states. Such collaboration will save time and resources and produce measurable environmental results by streamlining work plan negotiations, ultimately strengthening oversight and management of the Performance Partnership Grant progress for New England state partners. Having this online platform has also proven extremely useful during the current global pandemic, making it possible to complete our negotiations on time while folks are working remotely – both at EPA and in our New England states.
Strengthening the federal-state-tribal relationships in priority setting and measuring environmental progress is vital to our nation’s success in protecting health and the environment. The only way to fully realize our environmental goals is for states, tribes, and EPA to continue working together in the spirit of a mutual partnership.
About the author: Doug Benevento is EPA’s Associate Deputy Administrator and he is the President’s nominee to be the Deputy Administrator for EPA. Prior to his nomination as Deputy Administrator, Mr. Benevento was the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 8 office in Denver, Colorado, which comprises much of the mountain west. Mr. Benevento previously served as the Director of Environmental Programs and subsequently, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Read more.
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