The Office of Policy and Planning was created to enhance TDEC's capacity to conduct short and long term environmental policy research and analysis, implement strategic planning and process management initiatives and perform Title VI and Environmental Justice functions that are necessary to fulfill the Department's mission. The Policy Office works collaboratively within the Department and with other state Departments to implement strategic initiatives and identify innovative, cost effective opportunities for state government to enhance the quality of life for Tennessee citizens and natural environments. The Policy Office also works to engage federal, state and local government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations and the academic and business community to exchange views on matters relevant to environmental policy.
The Department is continually preparing for and responding to a variety of complex issues and challenges when it comes to safeguarding human health, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and managing an award-winning state park system for Tennessee. The Policy Office assists in this endeavor by examining legacy, current and emerging issues that cut across environmental media, the Department's divisions and programs, geographic locations, and political jurisdictions. Through independent and comprehensive research and analysis, the Policy Office provides option alternatives and policy recommendations for the Department.
National Environmental Policy Act Coordination (NEPA)
The Policy Office coordinates with Divisions within the Bureaus of Environment and Parks and Conservation to respond to requests for review and comment on NEPA documents for proposed projects within Tennessee that trigger requirements pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. This process is currently being reviewed and streamlined. More information concerning NEPA review requests can be found on TDEC's NEPA webpage.
Strategic Planning and Process Management
TDEC is using LEAN process management to help identify value, eliminate waste, and reduce steps in department processes, including permitting, enforcement, grants and state park activities. LEAN is an approach and set of tools that seek to eliminate inefficient and unnecessary steps in our processes. The Policy Office has coordinated numerous multi-disciplinary and high yield LEAN events, which have made it possible to achieve target results with fewer tasks, handoffs, and decisions. Results are not only achieved faster, but there is more capacity for employees to work at their highest skill level and on high value activities.
The Policy Office also coordinates the Department’s Customer Focused Government (CFG) and accountability performance planning process, a state-government-wide effort aiming to increase the efficiency and efficacy of state agency operations. More information concerning CFG and Department goals can be found on the Tennessee CFG Monthly Results webpage.
Title VI and Environmental Justice
TDEC promotes healthy and safe communities and quality environmental education for the benefit of the environment, public health and economy. The Department is committed to protecting the health of Tennessee's citizens and its environment, and to promoting environmental equity in the administration of its programs to the extent it may do so legally and practicably. "Environmental Justice" is based on the principle that all people should be protected from environmental pollution and have the right to a clean and healthy environment.
Environmental justice is:
- protection of the health of the people of Tennessee and its environment,
- equity in the administration of the State's environmental programs, and
- provision of adequate opportunities for meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an essential component of the principles of environmental justice. Title VI states, “No person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” 42 U.S.C. §2000d
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is committed to ensuring all management staff, contractors, and service beneficiaries are aware of the provisions of and responsibilities associated with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.