OHIO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
TruePenny People (TruePenny), working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, created an environmental permitting, licensing, and registration (PL&R) information one-stop wizard. This system dynamically collects information from businesses and individual users who seek to understand their requirements for OEPA compliance. The solution aims to reduce call-ins and promote consistency in OEPA customer-facing guidance. This wizard helps businesses self-evaluate for compliance as well as suggests a series of steps to take to reach environmental regulation compliance. A key feature is the custom roadmap with personalized permit requirements and local contact information that is generated via the interview.
PERMIT WIZARD DESCRIPTION
The Permit Wizard is an online tool that the regulated community can use to determine if their business will need any of the various permits, registrations, licenses, or notifications required by OEPA. The wizard directs the user through a series of questions, known as an “interview”, and uses the answers and embedded logic to determine if a permit is required. The interview flow dynamically keys on the user’s answers, and a wide number of result combinations are possible.
The Wizard contains paths for common business/industry types as well as a separate path for individuals who may be using the tool to find occupational licensing requirements or environmental health issues that may overlap with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, OSHA, etc. To aid those unfamiliar with environmental permitting, most references to EPA regulations and jargon have been purposely omitted wherever possible. The platform for the tool is Oracle Policy Automation (OPA), which uses a development interface known as Oracle Policy Modeling (OPM).
In collaboration with OEPA, TruePenny worked with agency-specific subject matter experts (SMEs) one-on-one with Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) specialists to identify and translate policy into an interview-style application that could be integrated into the agency's existing RightNow-based website. SMEs at the agency drove the process of key policy identification and were the ultimate decision-makers as to how the interview process correctly functions should ambiguity issues arise. TruePenny OPA specialists worked with SMEs to provide examples of the types of policies that were natural fits for the interview process. In cases where policies made the translation to OPA more complex, TruePenny made suggestions to overcome the shortcomings of vague or ill-defined policies while still capturing those scenarios in the solution. The team effort continued through the refining and testing phases of the project, so that agency SMEs continued to drive the solution, in effect, increasing their own individual OPA skill sets. As a result, the agency was capable of managing and updating all currently deployed Rulebases.
The solution covers about 35 distinct permits, licenses, and registrations.
For each PL&R covered by the wizard, there are a distinct and dynamic series of questions in the question process.
A key attribute of the interview process is that it is designed to quickly exclude large series of questions and permit categories at the beginning of the process, thereby leading to a streamlined and personalized process for each user that does not ask irrelevant questions. This path is partially accomplished by meta-data about the users identified industry, as well as through a set of initial screening questions.
Each subcategory also utilizes more detailed screening questions to ensure a user is not presented with questions about an activity they do not engage in.
The solution is personalized to a user’s location; with contact information for district offices based on the user's county (all 88 counties in Ohio are covered).
At the end of the interview process, the user is able to download a personalized "digest" or "roadmap" form of their results that include recommendations/information regarding PL&R requirements, local contact info and steps for beginning the permitting process.
The solution has reduced OEPA’s average cost for permit & compliance determination from $39.21 to 59 cents.
The system is Oracle Service Cloud-based. Rulebases are maintained within the cloud-based OPA hub and the solution is deployed via iFrame to a RightNow/OSC cloud website.
Each PL&R has its own separated rules document in OPA for ease of future maintenance or changes.
The entire solution utilizes a single Rulebase. However, the Rulebase is designed such that "sub-flows" can be expanded in the future into their own larger, more focused wizards. Touchpoints to other wizards are clearly defined in design documentation.
The Rulebase uses Excel tables to maintain many different systems within the solution that the agency has identified as subject to frequent change. These include links, industry data, and county information. These Excel documents are designed to be comprehensible and accessible to users with little to no OPA experience to ensure future maintenance will be possible.
“I’d like to personally thank TruePenny People for their dedicated work and service on our Oracle Policy Automation (OPA) solution. Ohio EPA partnered with TruePenny to help us develop a new Permit Wizard application using OPA software. We relied heavily on TruePenny’s expertise and design recommendations. Throughout the process, the TruePenny staff was capable, responsive and readily accessible via face-to-face meetings and conference calls. Their expertise, attention to detail, and ability to quickly address our concerns kept the project moving and enabled us to add features that were well beyond our initial concepts. The deployed Permit Wizard will serve as a model for future OPA application development at Ohio EPA. We truly appreciate and value TruePenny’s partnership with us. We look forward to working with TruePenny on future projects.”
Chief Information Officer
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency