Have an idea for improving NEPA? CEQ wants to hear it

Posted: Mar 31, 2011

Written by

JOHN MCARDLE, Environmental & Energy Daily
Colorado River

Call it the "American Idol" of government efficiency.

The Council on Environmental Quality announced today that it was accepting nominations from the public and federal agencies for projects that will increase the efficiency of environmental reviews conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The top projects will have the chance to be replicated across the government and become part of new or revised NEPA procedures.

CEQ Deputy Director Gary Guzy said that by opening the project up for public nominations CEQ hopes to infuse some outside-the-box thinking when it comes to environmental reviews.

"We might not know who the best singers are if we were just to choose them ourselves," he said. "We look for ideas that other people have because who knows where the source of great innovation comes from?"

A panel of NEPA experts from various federal agencies will select up to five lucky nominees, and those projects will have their progress tracked and publicized as they are implemented in CEQ's pilot program.

Guzy was hesitant this afternoon to offer specific examples of the kinds of projects the agency is looking for because he wanted the ideas to be as creative and fresh as possible.

"It could be someone who has a great idea on technology that makes participation much easier by folks in the public [or] puts information up on a real-time basis," he said. "It could be bringing a dedicated team of resource agency folks together to really be devoted to a project so it moves along really quickly and defines environmental outcomes right up front in that project. ... The possibilities are kind of endless."

The ideas don't even have to be new. They could already be in use at a particular agency or organization.

All that CEQ requires is that the project increase environmental review efficiency and hopefully use fewer resources to do it.

Guzy said that between his offices' efforts to promoted the pilot program among agency leadership and the public responses, CEQ expects to receive plenty of proposals to select from.

Nominations will be accepted until June 15.

For more information on NEPA, click here.

To submit nominations on NEPA to the CEQ, click here.

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