State environmental agencies have increasingly been facing the dual pressures to oversee ever growing numbers of pollution sources with fewer resources, and to demonstrate that agency compliance assurance efforts are yielding measurable results. The States Common Measures Project began in 2006 as a multi-state effort to address both these pressures by:
Evaluating the performance of targeted business sectors using common measures and statistical approaches.
Beginning to use the results to identify particularly effective strategies states employ to promote good environmental performance on the part of the regulated community.
Measurement projects such as the States Common Measures Project are not undertaken just for the sake of measuring something. These measurements are needed to determine if the facility performance in a state is “good enough” to meet the state’s policy objectives for the regulatory program and to identify any oversight practices that appear to be associated with higher performance levels. To the extent that the findings are reliable, the states are able to use the findings to make better decisions about efficient and effective programs.
Under the project, funded through the 2005-2006 EPA State Innovations Grant Program, the ten participating states - California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington applied the measurement methodology developed by Massachusetts for the Environmental Results Program (ERP). ERP is an innovative approach to improving and measuring the environmental performance of selected business sectors or groups. ERP uses a unique combination of linked compliance assistance, compliance certification and statistical performance measurement that leverages traditional compliance assurance activities to achieve improved performance for the selected group.
The project was implemented in four phases over three years:
Phase 1) Group Orientation and Capacity Building.
Phase 2) Making Decisions on Groups and Indicators.
Phase 3) Data Collection, Field Observer Training and Statistical Methods.
Phase 4) Data Analysis and Reporting Results.
Phase 1) Group Orientation and Capacity Building
This phase of the project served to ground the participants in the basic concepts of ERP measurement. In order to ensure the reliability and comparability of results for all participating state, training was developed and provided on the following topics:
Data quality assurance.
The use of indicators and statistics to measure performance.
The characteristics of “good” indicators.
The States Common Measures Project Final Report