Environmental agencies have traditionally relied on using output levels to measure efficacy in enforcing environmental regulations. Effective enforcement of regulations was assumed to lead, through deterrence, to broad compliance. This broad compliance was then assumed to lead to better protection of the environment and public health. However, the flaws of this logic have become apparent at both a national and state level. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has developed the Environmental Performance Measurement System (EPMS) to ensure a more effective performance analysis and allocation of state resources. EPMS uses a four-tier evaluation to assess strengths and weaknesses in environmental protection.
The first tier of EPMS tracks long-term trends in the conditions of Florida's natural resources, public health, and general environmental quality. This tier focuses on measuring air quality, ground water quality, and hazardous waste management. These three measures compose an overarching assessment that indicates how the following tiers can best apply to a given evaluation.
The Behavioral and Cultural Measures Tier tracks compliance rates and management practices in order to develop methods that most accurately regulate behaviors that affect environmental quality. The information from the first two tiers is then applied to the Outputs and Activities Tier. This tier uses traditional measures of program performance such as inspection and compliance percentages to evaluate existing efforts. These three tiers indicate environmental sectors in need of attention, the best methods of improving those sectors, and the success with which individual departments are applying those methods.
The final tier of EPMS focuses on resource efficiency, comprising accountability to the taxpayer and tracked efficiency gains. The EPMS has already begun to show significant results in addressing what were formerly evasive problems. For example, EPMS recently recognized that Florida's air pollution levels from nitrogen oxide were on the rise. This would normally be a straightforward issue, except that compliance rates were already above 90 percent. After the first two tiers recognized the problem, the Behavioral and Cultural Measures track was able to suggest concentrating efforts on voluntary compliance incentive approaches instead of attempting increased enforcement. In this case, EPMS was able to understand the nature of a complex problem and apply an innovative solution that more effectively used state resources.