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First-Year Progress Report: Natural Resource Agency Reforms Are Changing State Business Practices

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Gov. Chris Gregoire today highlighted the work of the state's natural resource agencies which have taken on several reform measures to provide better customer service, reduce costs, and help people cut through red tape to find important information faster.

"The work these agencies have done in their first year is impressive," Gregoire said. "I asked them to improve customer service and work more efficiently, and they did that. We will continue to reform how state agencies deliver essential services that save taxpayers money without sacrificing environmental protection."

Last year, Gregoire directed the state's natural resources agencies to work together to be more efficient, reduce costs of facilities and deliver better customer service, all without compromising their core missions.

The natural resources reform progress report recently released by the Office of Financial Management explains that eight of the 11 initiatives undertaken in the first year have been completed, and progress has been made in meeting the remaining three. Additional reform measures on technological improvements will require up-front investment to initiate, and thus will be phased in as the economy improves.

"We are advancing reform at DNR every day and by forging new partnerships with other agencies and stakeholders, we can have an even greater positive impact on the landscape," said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. "This effort is off to a great start, but we must continue to seek opportunities to improve the way we deliver services and protect resources."

One of the most visible reforms is the new online service called "One Front Door to Washington's Outdoors." With information provided by subject area instead of by the agency that provides it, citizens and businesses will find what they need faster and more intuitively.

For example, it's now possible to use the search term "grants" to locate grant programs housed in any of the state natural resource agencies. And there's a single point of entry for reporting environmental problems, or for finding a list of outdoor recreational activities. Each participating natural resource agency has a link to One Front Door on its website (http://access.wa.gov/environment/index.aspx).

Gary Chandler, vice president of government affairs for the Association of Washington Business, said, "This was an important first step in an effort to streamline the natural resource regulatory process. We support natural resource agency and permit streamlining without compromising existing environmental protections, and look forward to working with Governor Gregoire on continuing natural resource reforms next year."

"These reforms strike the right balance," said Mo McBroom of the Washington Environmental Council. "While some so-called 'reform' proposals actually weaken environmental protection, this effort was undertaken with significant public input to make government work better to protect our air, land and water."

Other high-impact reforms include legislative and gubernatorial action that reduced five environmental hearings boards to two, legislation that simplified environmental appeals, and agency actions that resulted in greater sharing of information technology and data to be more efficient and save money. In addition, agencies expanded their use of multi-agency teams to make it easier for permit applicants to get the answers they need for complex projects.

The reform effort also increased partnerships and coordination among agencies. Among other agreements, the Department of Natural Resources provides services such as land surveys and appraisals and weed control to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Puget Sound Partnership and the Recreation and Conservation Office share grant management and graphic services.

For more information on natural resources reform: http://governor.wa.gov/priorities/reform/naturalresources.asp

To read the 2010 Natural Resources Reform Progress Report: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/2010_Natural_Resources_Report.pdf

One Front Door to Washington's Outdoors: http://access.wa.gov/environment/index.aspx

Media contact: David Workman, 360-407-7004 / david.workman@ecy.wa.gov


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