What Governmental Environmental Cleanup Leaders Should Learn from the Private Sector

What Governmental Environmental Cleanup Leaders Should Learn from the Private Sector

It’s an interesting time to be managing environmental liabilities in the public sector.

For a long time, the public and private sectors were at parity when it came to environmental remediation strategies. When the early waves of digital modernization swept across the world - remediation management didn’t initially mesh with the more general-purpose ERP/GRP systems because of its complex nature. So the industry as a whole became tech-laggard - but at least both sectors were laggard together.

Today, it’s a very different story.

Peering over the other side of the fence into the private sector, you’ll notice a chasm between the modern tools and strategies afforded to the private sector and the ones utilized by governmental institutions. Spreadsheets have been replaced by secure cloud platforms. Manual processes have become entirely automated. Real-time data, custom reporting, AI-powered insights. 

The future finally came to the remediation department.

But while the private sector was maturing technologically, environmental liabilities in the public sector were growing at an unparalleled rate.

A developing issue

When combined, federal, state, tribal and local governments have orders of magnitude higher financial liabilities for environmental cleanup activity on government facilities, orphan sites, and brownfields than the private sector. 

And with new program funding in areas related to PFAS investigation and remediation and the Infrastructure Bill pollution cleanup earmarks, that gap is only set to widen.

Now, governmental environmental cleanup leaders are having to do more with less. They’re stuck in efficiency mode - keeping the lights on - when they could be innovating and benefitting from modern remediation tools and strategies.

So the time is now for governmental environmental cleanup leaders to stand and fight - to look towards the private sector and learn from what global remediation leaders are doing right now. 

Learning from remediation leaders

In the private sector, reserves and changes to reserves (accruals) for environmental obligations and asset retirement obligations as well as actual spending (cashflow) for those activities have a direct impact on that company’s performance and bottom line.  The executive-in-charge of the remediation program (typically a Vice President or Director) has the accountability for not only the financial performance against a plan but also the result of that spending activity.  

What are the results of spend you might ask? 

Even though remediation is a complex service and difficult to quantify, tangible results such as site and area of concern (AOC) closures or no further actions, lifecycle phase progression or milestone achievement, risk and chemical of concern reduction, regulatory compliance, and property reusability must be delivered to demonstrate value.  In other words, the leaders are held accountable for every dollar and every expected result.  

The structure for success

This inherent accountability in their roles as senior remediation leaders leads them to equip their teams and outsource partners (consultants, contractors, and labs) with the best management infrastructure possible to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective manner. 

Table 1: Proven Practices for Remediation Programs


Proven Practices

Data Intensity

  • Digital Vision for Remediation Programs
  • Data Governance Model
  • Joined Technical & Financial Data
  • Data Standardization
  • Analytics & Intelligence
  • Linked Processes
  • Integration to Mandated Systems

High Level of Collaboration

  • Enterprise Capability
  • Cloud Based
  • User Experience
  • Process Automation
  • User Activity Queues
  • Mobile Application

Process Control & Change Management

  • Remediation Domain Specific Application
  • Business Rule Logic
  • Automated Project Controls
  • Change Control & Delegations of Authority
  • Alerts & Notifications
  • Historical Context
  • Auditability

Getting the job done

Investment in a remediation enterprise digital strategy to support a vision and the above proven practices is no small task. This is especially true for governmental entities considering the red tape they must follow. 

However, with the billions of dollars being invested into legacy site cleanup and property reusability, getting the right digital approach is essential to ensure the best cleanup and fiduciary outcomes. 

Many leaders in the private sector faced internal challenges on their journey to deploy an enterprise solution focused solely on environmental cleanup. But they were able to build and substantiate a strong business case and return on investment. They also fought hard for it because they knew it was the right thing to do. These senior remediation leaders were adept in both digital strategy and business transformation - and they got the job done.

Closing the gap

Governmental leaders responsible for environmental cleanup programs now have an opportunity. They have a chance to leverage proven practices that have been enabled by commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) enterprise software. 

Custom-built software, generic business software, and tired out legacy systems are holding governmental entities back. 

Only one COTS software application designed specifically for environmental cleanup and liability management exists in the marketplace - ENFOS.

Learn more about ENFOS here.

The private sector has done it. Why can’t you?


Posted in Remediation/ ENFOS