Better Air Quality – Success Framework

By: Amanda Smith

Last year, Governor Gary Herbert tasked all state agencies with identifying their core processes and finding ways to increase efficiency and quality. This performance initiative, led by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), is designed to improve government services. Process improvements through this SUCCESS Framework will provide measurable results that will translate across divisions and agencies.

Better Air Quality

Here at DEQ, we have identified areas for improvements that will enhance agency performance and improve our ability to protect Utah’s environment. That doesn’t mean cutting corners to achieve cost savings, but rather applying a set of management principles that boost the quality and efficiency of our operations.

One of the Governor’s top priorities is air quality. Improving Utah’s air quality requires more than developing regulations for industry and businesses. It also requires programs that effectively implement these regulations and ensure compliance. By using the SUCCESS Framework, we can pinpoint and measure changes in our processes to reduce emissions and assure maximum benefit from our permit and compliance programs.

The Division of Air Quality (DAQ) identified an area for process improvement for oil and gas operations that is a win-win-win. The oil and gas industry is currently regulated by two state agencies: DEQ/DAQ and the Department of Natural Resources through its Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM). DOGM approves new drilling operations and inspects new and existing oil and gas operations for regulatory compliance. DAQ permits these operations for air emissions. So why not collaborate? It makes sense to share information that can be beneficial to both agencies.

DOGM has an extensive geographical database for oil and gas sites. A DAQ engineer developed an ArcGIS app that lets DAQ inspectors pinpoint DOGM sites that match DAQ permitted sites. Once this geographical match is made, DAQ and DOGM can share information between their databases. A DAQ inspector armed with an iPad, or other electronic device, can utilize the GIS function to locate sites, see which ones are in close proximity, and find access roads leading to the sites. This information helps inspectors make the best use of their time in the field.

DEQ is utilizing the SUCCESS Framework in all of our Divisions. This process lets us tap into the ingenuity of our employees to come up with ideas that help us improve how we do business. We believe DAQ’s simple solution will deliver measurable improvements—in this case, lower emissions from oil and gas operations. Efficient inspections can detect leaks and identify problems at permitted sites for a lower cost. Air quality improves and taxpayers get a bargain. Truly win-win-win.

DEQ will feature other SUCCESS Framework projects in future blogs. I welcome your ideas on how DEQ can improve efficiencies to enhance Utah’s environment.Air Quality Success

I am the Executive Director of DEQ, where I feel honored to work with so many bright and dedicated people. Over the past 23 years, my career has been focused primarily on natural resource and environmental policy and law. When not at work, I enjoy being outside on one of Utah’s beautiful ski, bike or running trails with my family and dog.