April 26, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) today emphasized the cost of overly lengthy federal permitting processes. He cited the example of Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska and how a delay in the federal permitting process cost taxpayers in the wake of the 2019 flood.
“The Army Corps of Engineers took about six years to get a permit for the Papio-Missouri Natural Resource District to raise the levees around Offutt Air Force Base,” Ricketts said in the hearing. “If you’re not familiar with Offutt Air Force Base, that’s where U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) is located, which controls our nuclear forces. They got the permit… just before we had a [1-in-]500-year flood that did $1 billion of damage to the state. So if they had just got the permit done in 4 years – like we were talking the average was – we could have been able to avoid that. Their unnecessary delays cost $1 billion and threatened our national security.”
Ricketts also highlighted the major improvements made in Nebraska’s permitting process during his time as Governor utilizing a process improvement methodology called Lean Six Sigma:
900 cost-saving projects
$100 million of hard savings to taxpayers
900,000 state teammate hours saved
Reduced process for air construction permits from 110 steps to 22 steps
Reduced processing time for air construction permits from 190 days to 65 days
After the hearing, Ricketts called on federal agencies to adopt similar process improvements to reduce redundancies and drive productivity without sacrificing quality.
“Improving the process wasn’t just good for applicants, it also increased productivity in the department – more permits issued per month – improved customer service and increased economic activity,” Ricketts said after the hearing. “When companies receive their permits faster, they can create jobs more quickly. When Yahoo decided to spend $20 million to expand a data center in La Vista, Nebraska, their leadership specifically cited our reduced permitting times as a major reason they chose to expand in my state instead of elsewhere. That was a big win for jobs and a big win for taxpayers. I believe that there are major gains to be made if our federal government learns from our successes in Nebraska and implements similar processes across multiple agencies.”
Ricketts comments came during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works exploring permitting reform legislation. The hearing was entitled “Opportunities to Improve Project Reviews for a Cleaner and Stronger Economy”.
Watch the video HERE.
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