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EPA Office of the Chief Financial Officer—Corrective Action Tracking

Kaizen Event Case Study

Summary

In December 2008, EPA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) conducted the Agency’s first completely internal Lean kaizen event. A team of OCFO managers and staff examined the office’s internal process for tracking and closing corrective actions, the term for tasks OCFO has committed to doing as a result of an audit or self-assessment. Specifically, the process was scrutinized from the point at which an Office of Inspector General (OIG) or A-123 corrective action plan was approved until the corrective action was closed. The process was taking too long, was not standard, involved duplication of effort, and did not meet customers’ needs.

The week-long event focused on clarifying the corrective action tracking process, developing a standard format for corrective action plans, clarifying the corrective action close-out process, and codifying all process steps into a standard operating procedure. The event dramatically improved efficiency by eliminating non-value added process steps, resulting in a more transparent process with increased data accessibility and improved customer satisfaction.

Results

OIG Correction Action Tracking Process

  • 86% reduction in number of handoffs (from 92 to 13)
  • 68% reduction in time to process an OIG Action (from 324 hours to 104 hours)
  • 62% reduction in total number of steps (from 16 to 6)

A-123 Corrective Action Tracking Process

  • 74% reduction in number of handoffs (from 31 to 8)
  • 46% reduction in time to process an A-123 Action (from 185 hours to 100 hours)
  • 63% reduction in total number of steps (from 8 to 3)

Agency: EPA Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Method Implemented: Kaizen event (5-day event)
Year Conducted: 2008
Consultant Support: Simpler Consulting


Scope of the Lean Project

Project Scope

EPA Internal Corrective Action Tracking Processes (OIG & A-123)

Goals

The goals of the lean event included:

  • Reduce missed milestones by 100% (e.g., no missed corrective actions).
    • Results: TBD pending 60 day review. The team developed a spreadsheet tool to support the new process and increase transparency.
  • Reduce rework and duplication by 75% (e.g., reduce the status-check phone calls, e-mails, and fire-drill mentality).
    • Results: TBD pending 60 day review. The first cycle involved training people on the new process and tool.
  • Reduce status update time by 50% (e.g., create one central place for data).
    • Results: TBD pending 60 day review. The first cycle involved training people on the new process and tool.
  • Make current data readily available to all stakeholders.

Process Changes and Results

During the kaizen event, participants developed “current state” and “future state” maps of the process. While creating the current state map (see Figure 1), OCFO participants saw clearly how individual roles fit into the entire process and began to understand the need for a more efficient exchange of information.

Figure 1: Current State Map (Click to enlarge in new window.)

Figure 1: Current State Map

The future state map helped participants visualize an ideal method for tracking corrective actions efficiently while continuing to meet work requirements. After the completion of the future state map, participants began drafting new procedures and a new spreadsheet tool for tracking corrective actions that would take the process for tracking these actions several steps closer to the ideal future state map.

Figure 2: Future State Map (Click to enlarge in new window.)

Figure 2: Future State Map

The biggest changes in the new process included:

  • Development of a centralized spreadsheet tool on its own shared computer drive for inputting status on corrective actions.
  • Adoption of a policy and standard operating procedure to input data in the central spreadsheet.
  • The new ability (as a result of the spreadsheet) to create reports for senior management on a regular schedule.

The event yielded the following results:

OIG Correction Action Tracking Process

  • 86% reduction in number of handoffs (from 92 to 13)
  • 68% reduction in time to process an OIG Action (from 324 hours to 104 hours)
  • 62% reduction in total number of steps (from 16 to 6)

A-123 Corrective Action Tracking Process

  • 74% reduction in number of handoffs (from 31 to 8)
  • 46% reduction in time to process an A-123 Action (from 185 hours to 100 hours)
  • 63% reduction in total number of steps (from 8 to 3)

The Lean team’s solutions made corrective action tracking data readily available to all stakeholders. The team also drafted an initial set of management-level summary reports based on the data from the spreadsheet.

Implementation

Since the event, participants have been working to implement the new tracking tool and update the process. This new tool was released in January 2009 for testing and refinement. Staff and managers are pleased that the new process eliminates numerous unnecessary status checks and handoffs that caused delays, and are also glad to have summary reports available for review. Continued follow-up by the Lean facilitator, team leader, event participants, and OCFO management has been integral to maintaining a focused effort to implement the new corrective action tracking process and fulfill the goals of the project.

For More Information

Contact Person:
Valerie Green
EPA OCFO
(202) 564-6642
green.valerie@epa.gov

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