Goal of this initiative

Create and maintain an efficient, simple, and streamlined regulatory and permitting system that makes it easier to start, expand, and operate businesses while protecting public regulatory goals.

Why is it important?

Fair, predictable, timely, and transparent regulatory and permitting processes are needed to provide businesses and investors with the certainty they need to make decisions about where to invest and grow in a fiercely competitive marketplace. As budgets tighten and government bodies raise taxes or consider the reduction or elimination of financial incentives and tax credits, the efficiency of the permitting process becomes an even more important factor in decisions to start, expand, or relocate a business.

That’s because when business owners speak of how “business friendly” a community is, often times they are referring to how easy or difficult it is to start up or expand a business.   The biggest factors are how long it takes and how much it costs.  In some cases, businesses are willing to pay higher fees for a faster permitting process, but not all businesses are able to do this, expecially new and small businesses.  It should be the goal of every government body and agency in Oregon to have the most fair and efficient permitting process possible with the resources that are available.

Oregon Business Plan vision for an efficient, effective regulatory system

The Oregon Business Plan adopts the vision of the Regulatory Streamlining and Simplification Roadmap, prepared by an Advisory Committee of private and public sector stakeholders in 2012.

Oregon is where things get done. Oregon will be a national model of an efficient, innovative, results-oriented
government with a proven reputation for achieving positive outcomes efficiently and at lower burden for the
regulated community and the state.

Oregon’s regulatory culture is collaborative, innovative and results-oriented. Having embraced a new
regulatory model, Oregon attains its high level of performance through a respectful, engaging culture that has been nurtured in a working environment where regulatory goals are clearly stated, collaborative solutions are cherished, reasonable risks are tolerated, and prevention and better outcomes are actively rewarded. Oregon’s agencies and its leadership, geared to this new regulatory model, prioritize education and prevention and endeavor to resolve problems rather than imposing penalties. Oregon’s leaders, working with an empowered and accountable agency staff, embrace an adaptive, problem solving, collaborative approach with open and ongoing dialogue with all public and private stakeholders.

Oregon takes pride in achieving timely, predictable, value-based outcomes. Oregon’s regulations are crafted to
encourage preventative behavior, achieve well-defined outcomes, and deploy resources commensurate to the risk.  Founded on clearly stated goals and crisp regulations and rules, Oregon’s regulatory and permitting processes seek to efficiently achieve improved outcomes at the lowest possible burden to the regulated entity and the state. Efficiencies are assured by an empowered state agency workforce, unambiguous policy directives, clarity in all goals, regulations and fees, and enlightened leadership paired with responsive and responsible engagement by all within the regulated community.

Oregon embraces continuous improvement in process and results. Oregon achieves these results and maintains its reputation by embracing proven methods for continuous improvement through the creation of a culture that seeks operational improvement and quality management systems. Hallmarks of this efficient, integrated regulatory model include a common, fully integrated IT system affording “one-stop” permitting and licensing across various agencies and governments, performance metrics calibrated to assure accountability, and outcomes that work to preserve and enhance the ideals of public safety and a sustainable environment in which Oregon’s native ecosystems are healthy and resilient. This regulatory model and the culture that supports it promote joint engagement between state, federal and local agencies, facilitate access and responsiveness, and assure full transparency and regulatory certainty.

Oregon thrives. With a collaborative problem solving culture, a penchant for innovation and incentives, and a deep seated commitment for continuous improvement and problem avoidance, Oregon’s agencies perform their
regulatory and permitting services in a timely manner with consistent, predictable results without sacrificing the
values of Oregonians. This new model, leveraged by disciplined leadership and constructive engagement from the public and private sectors, creates an environment that raises the level of civil discourse, inspires divergent interests to collaborate, and enables Oregon to thrive.

The Oregon Business Plan strategy

The Oregon Business Plan strategy, which builds off of the Roadmap, is focused on these priorities.

• Adopt consistent management systems and permitting practices across state agencies; apply similar principles as much as possible across federal, state, and local governments.

• Develop a unified, 21st century information technology system that streamlines permitting processes within state government and connects with federal and local government systems.

• Move toward one-stop, efficient permitting that is centered on the project and the applicant rather than the agencies involved. Strive to eliminate duplication in state agencies and across jurisdictions.

• Embrace innovation and incentives to achieve better outcomes at a lower cost to both the regulated entity and the government.

• Promote transparency of all regulatory goals, timelines, processes and outcomes.

• Assure accountability to stated goals.

• Build stronger partnerships between agency personal in the federal, state, and local government and the private sector to share best practices and support continuous improvement.

• Promote and monitor select pilot projects.

Recent progress

• The Governor’s Regulatory Streamlining and Simplification Advisory Committee delivered a roadmap for regulatory streamlining (“the Roadmap’) to the Governor in August 2012.

• The AOI Foundation is investing in work on this issue.

• Regional Solutions Teams have accelerated dozens of development projects in the past two years.

• Legislative measures in 2011-2012 include streamlining for linear permitting, some streamlining for industrial lands permitting, and some improvements in the state’s wetlands program.

Priority actions for 2013

1. The Governor should issue an executive order outlining his plans to advance the first two strategic initiatives of the Roadmap, adopting consistent management systems, cultural changes, uniform technology, and improved customer service across state permitting functions.

2. Business groups should form a strategic alliance with the Governor’s office and Secretary of State’s Office to help benchmark Oregon’s regulatory and permitting practices against other states, identify “best practices” in a range of business functions within state government, and help the state achieve “continuous improvement” in its regulatory and permitting processes.

3. Business groups should also partner with the League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties to help identify and replicate best practices in local permitting. As a first step, the business community, LOC and AOC should launch an awards program to highlight exemplary regulatory and permitting practices that could be replicated by other jurisdictions.

4. The Governor should include in his budget, and the legislature should provide
funding for, “permitting ombudsmen” to be housed inside Regional Solutions with the express goal of helping regulated entities cut through the morass of federal, state and local regulations to permit projects faster and cheaper.

5. The legislature should consider a wide range of approaches to improve regulatory and permitting processes in 2013. Major opportunities include:

  • A new streamlined process for UGB expansion as identified by the Urban Growth working group and included in the Roadmap.
  • Improvements to the land use appeals process as identified in the Roadmap.
  • Legislation to reduce overlap in permitting processes between state, local and federal government.
  • Legislation expanding the use of “lead agencies” and other practices deemed exemplary.

6.  Pilot Projects: The state should advance and monitor the pilot projects identified in the Roadmap, including regional wetlands permitting, the 401/404 water permitting kaizen process, energy facility siting, and wave energy permitting. Additionally, the State should launch a fifth pilot project focused on permitting for small manufacturing facilities. The pilot should be a time-limited effort, perhaps two years, with the express intent of increasing certainty, reducing timeframes, and reducing costs for permitting small manufacturing facilities and projects in Oregon. Done well, this could serve as a major business retention, expansion and recruitment tool for high wage, traded sector manufacturers.

Key Links

Governor’s Office of Regulatory Streamlining