By Alan Matheson
Successful organizations operate upon bedrock values that define who they are and guide their decisions and actions. These values are aspirational, inspiring high standards and best efforts. They provide clarity by aligning all in the organization toward common objectives. They help members of an organization make consistent and principled decisions. Core values should be so well-known and understood, so deeply integrated, that they mold organizational culture, the group’s very essence.
This year, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) redefined its mission statement and core values. We did this through a deliberate and inclusive process. In the spring, the DEQ Quality Council, our executive team, reviewed our agency in detail, identified challenges and opportunities, and brainstormed how we can better accomplish the mission the Legislature has assigned to us. Through this introspective process, we outlined who we have to be, what we have to do, and how we have to act to fulfill our mission.
Over the summer, we invited all DEQ employees to participate in focus group meetings where they shared specific ideas on how we should define our values. That broad participation was tremendously valuable as employees helped align our values with the realities of their jobs, their professional goals, and their commitment to the state.
Through this effort, we crafted a statement of our mission, vision, and values that has broad support within DEQ. We are working to integrate these values into all we do and improve our processes to build on our culture of service and success.
Safeguarding and improving Utah’s air, land, and water through balanced regulation
The Legislature defined our mission in Utah Code 19-1-102. Our mission statement boils several statutory provisions into a succinct statement of our distinct role as a regulatory agency that protects our environment in a way that balances society’s many needs.
Clean air, land, and water for a healthy and prosperous Utah
Clean air, land, and water are essential for human health, our economy, and our quality of life. We all want to live productive and active lives, raise our children in a healthy environment, enjoy Utah’s unparalleled beauty, feel pride in our state, and have the security of good jobs to support our families. We seek to work with all Utahns to achieve these shared goals.
Exceptional Service: We are public servants committed to the people of Utah and our customers. We solve problems, actively engage stakeholders, and are professional, responsive, and fair.
Fundamentally, as public servants, we strive to improve the lives of all Utahns. We have a responsibility to treat all with respect, understand the range of perspectives in our community, engage constructively to reach successful outcomes, and help regulated businesses prosper as they comply with environmental requirements.
Commitment to Employees: We value our dedicated employees as our greatest asset. We treat each other with respect, foster professional development, and celebrate our individual and collective contributions.
Every day, DEQ employees walk into our offices determined to accomplish our mission. They come from different backgrounds and see the world in different ways, but they share a love for Utah and commitment to service and excellence. We owe them our appreciation and the fulfillment that comes from doing meaningful work well.
Credibility & Trust: We earn the public’s trust by showing we care, demonstrating expertise in our work, and basing our decisions on science and the law. We act with integrity, and make accurate and reliable information accessible to the public.
The public deserves to have confidence that its governmental institutions care about them and are working hard to advance their welfare. At DEQ, we take seriously our responsibility to perform our work to the highest standards, ensure our conduct is beyond reproach, and operate openly and transparently.
Continuous Improvement: We are accountable for taxpayer dollars. We improve our performance and implement innovations that advance quality, efficiency and effectiveness.
As Utah’s population grows and federal regulations expand, the demands on DEQ increase significantly. We seek to meet those demands while reducing the burden on taxpayers. To do that, we must continue to build on our long-held culture of process improvement. We eliminate activities that don’t advance our mission, and more effectively perform those activities that do.
I’ll be the first to admit that we at DEQ haven’t always lived up to these values. We need to do better, and we are. We are working to ensure that everyone from the new employee to the 40-year veteran knows and lives these values. Ultimately, it’s about taking advantage of the privilege we have to help make Utah a better place for all its residents, current and future.
I invite you to read our 2016 annual report next week to find examples of how we are doing just that.
I am the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.