The Challenge: Combining Pacific Islands permitting into a more robust, single system
The fisheries permitting process is a complex and exacting one, encompassing application, tracking, compliance, printing and mailing certificates and form letters, renewals, record keeping, and payment processing. Effective permit management is critical to supporting the fishing industries, as well as sustainable science and management.
Nowhere are these complexities more apparent than in the Pacific Islands Regional Office Permits Program, which manages an array of permits across a vast and diverse area. The National Permitting System—which enables online application, renewal, payment, and tracking—was launched nearly a decade ago, but many of the Pacific Islands’ permits issues are still managed using a separate, outdated database. PIRO uses both their old database for maintaining historical records and the NPS for managing permits. The PIRO Permits Program turned to the Quality Management and Continuous Improvement Professional Specialty Group to identify the permitting process workflow for the Hawaii longline fishery, the largest fishery managed in the region. This Value Stream Mapping of the workflow can improve current processing and feed the development of a workable strategy to migrate permitting operations from its outdated system to a more robust system, while ensuring continuity of service for the fishing community and the integrity of legacy data.
To improve the efficiency of permit processing and inform a seamless transition to a more robust permits management system.
The QM Approach
The PIRO Permits Office participated in a Value Stream Mapping workshop where participants took a step back and visualized each step in the Hawaii longline permit process. This allowed the team to identify inefficiencies in the process and spot opportunities to improve the current processing of permits, setting the stage for transition from the older management system to a more robust system.
The workshop led to immediate improvements in the office’s permits management protocols and validated initial recommendations for modernizing the permitting process. Mapping out the steps helped the team identify ways to integrate more online features with the NPS to approve permits, which saves time and paper. In fact, the fee for applying online for a Hawaii longline permit was reduced to $31, compared to $52 for a paper application. This reflects the agency’s cost savings to process online applications compared to paper ones. In addition, the Permits Office now has a clear roadmap, complete with timelines and resource needs, to continue modernizing their permits management system.