Loretta Lynn once mused — to paraphrase — while everyone wants to go to heaven, nobody wants to make the trip.
It may not be everyone’s definition of heaven, but I carry around a punch list of my goals for 2008. It comprises ten numbered items. When a goal is reached, I punch a hole in the list next to the appropriate number.
I say it is the list of my goals, but it is really a list of goals for a large team of people at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is nothing on this list I could do alone. For instance, I have little idea how to establish a best practices system or create an electronic dashboard. Nonetheless, I am able to punch items off the list because people are willing to do the hard work necessary to make EPA a better agency and better protect human health and the environment.
I sat down with some of these team members almost a year ago and went through the goals. When I got to item number 7, there was a groan. Number 7 seemed impossible. It was something that no agency had ever achieved and, it seemed likely, no agency ever would achieve. I said, “That’s okay, we’ll leave it on the list and consider it a stretch goal.”
You see, in the many years it’s been available, only two agencies have ever won the President’s Quality Award for Overall Management Excellence. Think of it as a supercharged Malcolm Baldridge Award for the federal government. It’s only rarely won and no agency has ever won this award two years in a row.
And yet, last night, thanks to this team of EPA employees — employees who not only wanted to go to heaven, but were willing to take the trip — I took my hole puncher and punched out item number 7. EPA won the President’s Quality Award for Overall Management . . .again.
Congrats! EPA has done some pretty cool stuff over the last couple years. Especially in the terms of accountability and new social media approaches. Love the Radon YouTube contest, Pugeut Sound wiki, among the many cool projects.
Very cool Marcus. The EPA gets pounded by the press, pounded by the public and pounded by industry. To say noting of getting dumped on by the bad guys (sorry about the pun.)
But I believe that the EPA is a major part of the thin green line between us and the end of the world as we know it. Great work, congratulations, and thank you. And I love the climate change site!
The supposed test of a good EPA decision: if no one likes it, it must be right.