October 1, 2010
DEP Releases Analysis of Permit Processes Report was Required by Public Act 10-158
Recommendations aimed at improving time frames for permit decisions while maintaining environmental standards
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released its Permitting Assessment Report, which analyzes the current time needed for action on permit applications and recommends steps that can be taken to improve these time frames while maintaining environmental standards.
DEP prepared this report in compliance with Public Act 10-158 Ė legislation proposed by Governor M. Jodi Rell as a result of the work of a Permitting Task Force she formed in February.
This law required the Department to evaluate its 25 individual permitting programs and identify "the process improvements, additional resources, staffing and programmatic changes" needed to meet specific time frame goals.
The time frame goals set out in the law required DEP to assess the feasibility of:
- Deciding within 60 days whether there are deficiencies in an application (referred to as the sufficiency review); and
- Completing, within 180 days after the sufficiency determination, the technical analysis necessary to issue a formal notice of tentative determination to approve or deny a permit.
DEPís full report is available at www.ct.gov/dep/permitassessment.
Recommendations put forward by DEP to improve the timeliness of permitting decisions include:
- More than 40 process changes (steps that can be taken without statutory or regulatory changes, such as new procedures and forms);
- More than 20 programmatic changes (which require new authorizations, such as new general permits, and regulatory and statutory changes);
- The need for an additional 53 program staff, five legal staff and six information technology staff to consistently meet the time frame goals outlined in Public Act 10-158; and
- Additional annual funding of $500,000, largely for contractual services necessary to improve information technology for the benefit of Department staff and customers.
Commenting on the report and its recommendations, DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, "At DEP, we recognize that timely action on permits is a key component of the Stateís role in promoting sustainable economic growth. We welcomed enactment of Public Act 10-158 and the permit assessment it required because it sets a path to improve the timeliness of permit programs while preserving our stateís protective environmental standards."
"While our report identifies additional staffing and resource needs as directed by the law, we realize Connecticut is in the midst of a budget crisis. Absent budgetary increases, the Department will work with our stakeholders to prioritize and to develop a realistic timeline for implementing the recommended improvements and programmatic changes."
The Permitting Assessment Report covers 25 individual permits issued by DEP under various federal and state environmental programs to regulate air emissions, water discharges, and waste management and to protect inland water and coastal resources.
The report and its recommendations build on the work of DEPís LEAN Initiative Ė a process improvement effort that identifies wasted time and effort. Since 2008, DEP has conducted 23 LEAN projects aimed at increasing the efficiency of permitting, enforcement and other critical agency programs.
Public Act 10-158 contains provisions in addition to the permit assessment, and the Departmentís responses to them are also detailed in its full report.