Forum to be Held at Fidelity Investments in Smithfield
PROVIDENCE –Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit will take part in a May 16 forum sponsored by the RI Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) on DEM's efforts to improve customer service through regulatory reform. The three-hour session will be held at Fidelity Investments located at 900 Salem Street in Smithfield.
Director Coit will address participants following opening remarks by John Muggeridge, vice president of public affairs for Fidelity Investments and John Simmons, executive director of RIPEC.
Two panel discussions will be held during the forum. The first panel will review the current status of reform efforts at DEM, followed by a session that will examine opportunities for reform such as performance-based programs, enhanced state/local collaboration on projects with overlapping jurisdictions, and expansion of information technology efforts. Panelists will include Terry Gray, associate director for air, waste and compliance at DEM; Leslie Taito, director, Office of Regulatory Reform; Gary Ezovski, chairman, Small Business Economic Summit Regulations Committee; Bob Baldwin, president, R.B. Homes, Inc.; and Scott Gibbs, president, The Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island.
Under Director Coit's leadership and as part of a broader state effort to improve the regulatory climate, DEM has implemented customer service and Lean government initiatives to improve customer service, streamline business processes, and make its permitting programs more efficient. "DEM has been working hard over the past year to review and improve our processes, in a way that will work for our customers and deliver a clean environment," said Director Coit. "Together with the other state departments, I am implementing process improvements to ensure that regulatory programs are clear, predictable, and reliable, don't impose undue burdens, and do provide a straightforward path to compliance."
Improving responsiveness and the delivery of service to Rhode Island businesses is a top goal at DEM. As part of the Department's customer service initiative, Amica Insurance has trained core DEM staff and a team of customer service trainers; all DEM staff members will undergo training this year. "Since my appointment, I have emphasized improved customer service as a key component of the culture within DEM, and I believe that RI businesses are beginning to see a positive difference in their recent experiences with our Department," Director Coit said. She pointed to the Forbes Street project in East Providence as an example of where DEM worked to assist East Providence facilitate the timetable needed for a successful redevelopment of the former landfill so that it will line up with banking/investment deadlines.
DEM's Lean government initiative is ongoing within programs that most affect development and aimed at making key regulatory programs more efficient and customer-centric. Important goals of this initiative are to improve overall quality of permit applications, integrate a culture of continuous process improvement into the Department, and improve overall relationships with the regulated community and permit applicants. To date, DEM's site remediation, wetlands preliminary determination, and air resources pre-construction permitting programs have undergone a Lean review. As a result, the Department has developed 110 action items that will streamline processes and increase efficiency in these programs.
Director Coit also noted that DEM's Office of Customer and Technical Assistance is dedicated to providing businesses coordinated assistance, such as a portal for projects, pre-application advice, and staff who shepherd projects through the system.
"DEM's customer service and Lean government work has engaged staff up and down the chain, and will result in real systemic changes that improve our regulatory climate and achieve results that work for the environment and the economy," Director Coit said. "I look forward to Thursday's RIPEC forum and to receiving feedback from the business community on what they need, and how to focus our current resources on improving the permitting process and communications at DEM."
The RIPEC forum is open to the media.