Operate Effectively and Efficiently
The major DCNR accomplishments of 2019 to operate effectively and efficiently are listed below.
Lean Continuous Process Improvement
- Last year, Lean Awareness was increased throughout DCNR. A total of 21 percent of the agency’s workforce has attended Lean Awareness training, with two employees completing advanced training as certified Green Belts. The Snowmobile/ATV Unit of DCNR transitioned to PennDOT to help improve delivery of services, increase efficiencies and provide cost savings for the Snowmobile/ATV community. The application backlog was reduced from 53 days to 11 days.
- Out of State Travel (OST) for Commonwealth Agencies: Our in-house design for OST requests is now being utilized by the Governor’s office and is being rolled out to other agencies. Instant notifications of approvals instead of waiting for an outside system to notify employees by email. Internal process time reduced from two weeks to an average of three days.
Information Technology Delivery Center
The Conservation and Environment IT Delivery Center, Office of Administration, continued to work on standardizing processes and implementing improvements in response to agency information technology needs and feedback.
Accomplishments for 2019 include:
The Office of Administration’s telecommunications service provider contract changed in July of 2018, ushering in a telephone transition and access to long-awaited network broadband upgrades for DCNR’s aging technical infrastructure. Beginning in January 2019 telephones in Central, Middletown and Pittsburgh offices were replaced with upgraded phone service that integrates with Skype and Office 0365. Additionally, IT staff partnered with agency staff to plan upgrades for DCNR’s network infrastructure across DCNR field locations. Faster internet speeds at competitive rates are now available through Verizon and Hughes’s Managed Network service offerings. Since October 2018, about 30 sites have been upgraded. Upgrades will continue in 2020, empowering field staff to engage with network connected devices and cloud software more efficiently;
The Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Grants Customer Service Portal was released, expanding on the functionality of the BRC Grant Application Portal. In addition to the existing ability to apply for grants online, BRC staff and grantees can now communicate throughout the project lifecycle from within the grants system. Specific benefits of the Customer Service Portal release include:
DCNR project managers can use it to log essential communications, request required documents and other uploads, and conduct final project close-out with the local project coordinators.
Checklists are available to guide the local project coordinators through the management of their project and provide access to key resources for successful completion.
Grantees can request amendments and/or payments from within the system.
Improving Well Information
The Bureau of Geological Survey's Exploration and Development Well Information Network (EDWIN) has been upgraded to include a new subscription management system. In addition to giving staff the ability to manage annual subscriptions, an online payment method was introduced to subscribers as an alternative to mailing physical checks.
With this application release, DCNR has joined with other state agencies to offer the Keystone Login, a single, secure way to access multiple commonwealth services. This GO-TIME project has a net savings of $7 thousand per year after developer time was taken into consideration, plus an additional $26 thousand in staff productivity savings.
DCNR continued work on the Pennsylvania Groundwater Information System (PaGWIS) of water-well and spring data, adding more than 9,000 new water-well records, while improving more than 7,000 records. About 40 new spring records were added to the database. In addition, a database redesign team has been assembled to upgrade the applications.
The Bureau of Geologic Survey added upwards of 400,000 new pieces of documentation and interpreted data to EDWIN, and continues to track, interpret and communicate information on oil and gas well development and production in Pennsylvania. In addition, the survey launched the new EDWIN Subscription website so that subscribing users have an online portal for maintaining their contact information, user lists, and accounts.
The Bureau of Geologic Survey completed final geological characterization reporting for the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) Phase III Project.
For this effort, we collaborated with nine other partner states and Battelle Memorial Institute to prepare seven different report documents (with associated digital data products) regarding the subsurface geology, structure, stratigraphy, reservoir properties, and carbon storage prospects for our ten-state region. BGS was lead author on the Appalachian basin topical report.
It is anticipated that DOE will approve and release these reporting materials to the public in 2020.
Mid-Atlantic U.S. Offshore Carbon Storage Resource Assessment Project
Over the past three years, this project has compiled, inventoried, and assimilated various publicly available data sets to provide a strong technical basis on which future carbon storage studies and applications can be built.
Mineralogical and elemental analyses provided by the Bureau of Geologic Survey’s Geologic Resources Division, along with assessments of reservoir porosity and permeability, were instrumental components of the project team’s collaborative determination that Mid-Atlantic U.S. offshore geologic formations can potentially store decades of CO2 from industrial sources in the region.
The division also took the lead in developing recommendations for a road map for U.S. offshore carbon capture and storage deployment.
Human Resources Consolidation
The Conservation & Environment HR Delivery Center, Office of Administration, has been together for two and a half years and the team continues to work on standardizing processes and learning about the agencies for which HR services are provided.
- Expansion of recruitment activities with the addition of a recruiter and tracking of activities;
- Continued transition to a vacancy-based hiring system that has provided DCNR with larger candidate pools;
- Continued improvement to the intern hiring process.
In State Park and Forest Buildings
In its ongoing effort to implement energy-saving operations and facilities, DCNR continued to pursue a sustainability course in 2019 that saw it move to reduce energy consumption through reliance on solar units to power buildings and certain systems, such as sewage treatment, at state park and state forest buildings.
Already, solar installations at 16 total locations have been completed with three being net-zero facilities and one creating an entire net-zero state park.
Innovative Energy Efficiency Programs
The Guaranteed Energy Saving Act (GESA), in partnership with Energy Systems Group (ESG), helped kick off a large energy savings project in 2018 covering 22 State Parks and four state forest districts in the western region of the state.
These energy saving, infrastructure investments will save $7.5 million over 20 years while reducing annual carbon emissions by over 2,000 tons.
A second GESA project began in 2019 with the McClure Company to assess facilities for energy improvements in an additional 48 state parks and 12 state forest districts located in the central region of the state. Both projects focus on upgrading lighting to LED, installing more efficient HVAC systems, and improving building envelopes.
Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles
Sixteen state parks now serve as proving grounds to improve accessibility and range for park visitors who drive plugin hybrid or full electric-powered vehicles.
When the current slate of projects is complete, more than 40 DCNR affiliated locations will have electric vehicle charging stations.
Forest Fire Protection
- Sixteen fire towers around the state have been restored.
More than 100 bureau and volunteer firefighters were deployed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, and Washington. Pennsylvania experienced a relatively mild fire season, with about 500 reported wildfires (mostly small).