Thanks to applicant and recipient feedback, preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin just got easier. Since the Clean Boats Clean Waters initiative was launched back in 2003, diligent volunteers and paid staff have inspected hundreds of thousands of boats and educated over one million people about healthy boater hygiene. Fortunately, the legislature segregated funds that enable DNR to provide AIS grants to support watercraft inspection efforts. Unfortunately, volunteer burn-out is high, and some groups may not even apply for the funds because of the perception that the grant application process and competition are too challenging. The DNR response to public feedback that there must be an easier way to fund watercraft inspection projects was to Lean-Government it.
Lean Government is based on Lean Six Sigma – an improvement method using data to identify and eliminate process problems. DNR was the first agency in the state to take on Lean Government projects, and Clean Boats Clean Waters Clean Grants is one of DNR’s first projects. Our goals are lofty and include reducing staff workload by 30% and decreasing administrative steps by 50%. Since CBCWCG came as direct feedback from grassroots citizen partners, the most important measure of success will be how the new process helps you help our lakes. To that end, our goals are to reduce volunteer time spent on watercraft inspection grant administration by 50%, and perhaps most ambitious, to 100% satisfy our existing customers.
We’re confident we can get there, and here’s how:
1. Clean Boats Clean Waters grant applications are now available on-line in fillable format, check them out here. The application with built-in resolution is the first page, and the grant contract the second. No more multiple-page application with letters of support, maps, and long narratives!
2. All applications will be submitted to staff at Spooner DNR. Provided the application is complete and activities eligible, the project gets funded, and you will be notified within 14 business days. No more competition, uncertainty (i.e. stress), and waiting for months!
3. All projects will have state grant caps of $4000 per boat landing, automatic 25% advance payments, and standardized scopes and time lines. If inspectors take Clean Boats Clean Waters training, invest at least 200 hours of watercraft inspection time per boat landing, and enter the inspection data into SWIMS, the remaining project balance will be reimbursed when the final payment request and worksheet are submitted to DNR. No more redundant time tracking!
4. Some things will remain the same, including grant deadlines (Feb. 1st and Aug. 1st), state share (75%), and eligible sponsors. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!
The new Clean Boats Clean Waters Clean Grants process is available for the February 2013 grant cycle. We will continue to measure both staff and volunteer time and survey your satisfaction. The implementation of this new, simplified grant application process will be an evolution. For example, it’s possible demand will eventually exceed available funds so we are making contingency plans to prioritize those lakes that are the greatest threat for spreading AIS as well as those that are most susceptible for establishing AIS. We also intend to market this new funding opportunity to lakes that haven’t historically implemented watercraft inspection programs but should. Your continued feedback will help us continue to grow Wisconsin’s Clean Boats Clean Waters program into a comprehensive, community-based effort that surveys say is the best way to get the word about preventing AIS spread…while making government leaner.