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October 27, 1999


Subject: Information Integration Initiative

To: Assistant Administrators
General Counsel
Inspector General
Chief Financial Officer
Associate Administrators
Regional Administrators
Staff Office Directors

Today I am announcing a bold new initiative -- the Information Integration Initiative -- to move the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) environmental information capabilities to a new level of operation and utility. I am directing the Office of Environmental Information (OEI) to lead an Agency-wide effort, in partnership with the States and Tribes, and consistent with the vision and operating principles we have with our State partners, to build an information network that will establish a fundamentally new approach to integrating and managing environmental information.

The new approach will establish a single integrated multi-media core of environmental data and tools. We will work with States and Tribes to encourage them to implement a similar approach. This initiative will promote smarter ways of providing public health and environmental protection -- shared stewardship; multimedia, facility-wide, geographic focus; improved public access; accurate and reliable data; and measurable results. The benefits of the new approach are clear and significant:

  • Improved environmental decision making using integrated facility-specific information and ambient environmental information in geographic formats;
  • Reduced burden and transaction costs for all who use environmental and public health information -- EPA, States, Tribes, regulated businesses and interested members of the public;
  • Greater certainty for regulated businesses, more reliable and transparent access for the public and improved performance and results management for EPA through consistent, common terminology and shared core information;
  • More accurate, reliable environmental data that will promote better public access and understanding, improved compliance and greater accountability.

The need for a new approach is beyond debate. For the past several years, EPA has undertaken a number of initiatives to make incremental improvements in its single-media information systems. However, these improvements alone will not deliver the vision of integrated, multi-media information Integration Initiative will use many of the building blocks of our recent efforts such as data standards, electronic reporting and central receiving, Envirofacts, and the Facility Registry System to establish an integrated information system.

This Initiative represents a bold departure from past practices. Its success will require the cooperation and participation of all parts of the Agency. We need to immediately focus our activities and resources on building the new integrated information system. To get us off to a strong start, I am directing the following actions:

  • The Office of Environmental Information, which will have responsibility for the overall leadership on this effort, will establish a team - including representatives from program offices and regions - to develop an action plan for carrying out this initiative. This plan, which will be due to me in 60 days, will be the initial road map to guide our integration efforts and must be firmly grounded in the major programmatic needs for information to accomplish our Agency's mission.
  • The Comptroller will provide me with a report within 30 days on options for ensuring adequate resources for this Initiative.
  • The Quality and Information Council will serve as the Senior level steering committee for implementing this Initiative.

Building the integrated information system is one of the Agency's greatest challenges. As we enter the 21st century, we are committed to ensuring that our information is timely, accurate, integrated and useful to all those involved in environmental decision making - EPA, States and Tribes, local governments, regulated businesses and the public. I am confident that all of you share these commitments and that I can count on all of you to support this effort. Together we can reshape environmental information management to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new millennium.

Carol M. Browner