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Fwd: Challenging the Pollution Prevention Technical Assistance model

Forwarded on behalf of Mike Kelley.  Please respond directly to Mr. Kelley or p2tech @great-lakes.net
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 08:12:15 -0500
From: "Michael Kelley" <Michael.Kelley@epa.state.oh.us>

The information below has a very interesting premise.  However, I would =
like to offer the following as "food for thought."  I admit I have not =
completed an excruciating level of research on the subject.  But there are =
a number of items which, on the surface, seem to contradict the information=
 from the International Labor Office.  Below are a few of these (which are =
not listed in any priority order):

1.  Funding vs. Priorities:  Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed =
that there seems to be a correlation between the lack of priority that P2 =
practitioners place on technical assistance (nationally) and the ever =
decreasing amount of funding that U.S. EPA and other organizations are =
providing for P2 technical assistance?

2.  Ongoing Budget Justifications:  Some state and quasi-state based =
organizations have been providing P2 technical assistance for upwards of =
ten years (and in some cases, it's been more like 15 (e.g. North Carolina))=
.  To my knowledge, all state funded organizations have had to justify =
their budgets on at least a biennial (two-year) basis.  How could these =
programs maintain their funding over an extended period of time unless =
they were able to justify the effectiveness of their assistance activities =
for budget purposes? =20

3.  ...And the Requests Keep Coming:  I can't speak for other states, but =
in Ohio we are not seeing "a dramatic decrease" in the amount of P2 =
technical assistance requests.   The number of requests do fluctuate based =
on how well we market our services - but I'm hard pressed to point to =
anything that demonstrates the level of interest in P2 among Ohio =
companies has decreased substantially over the past few years. =20

The information below states that the International Labor Office "would =
likely argue that P2 organizations should focus exclusively on consultants,=
 business advisors, accountants and others who have longer-term professiona=
l relationships with target firms..."  I question whether focusing =
exclusively on any particular group or groups would increase the effectiven=
ess of our P2 assistance efforts to the point that I could justify no =
longer providing "direct" assistance to business. =20

The Ohio EPA Office of P2 has provided "direct" P2 technical assistance to =
300 - 500 Ohio companies annually since 1994.   In addition, we provide =
assistance to another 300 - 500 organizations, individuals and other =
"non-business" entities annually.  With these kinds of numbers, it's hard =
for me to think that providing "direct" P2 technical assistance is =
ineffective. =20

Mike Kelley
Office of Pollution Prevention
Ohio EPA

>>> <Kaplan.Phil@epamail.epa.gov> 02/13/02 11:36AM >>>

I won't be able to attend the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable
in Portland (www.p2.org), but hey, why not stir things up there anyway.
I have been collecting key reference publications on P2 program
management, and on management of other kinds of programs that provide
technical assistance to smaller firms.  In developing countries such
programs have long been a mainstay of foreign aid, and a great deal of
evaluation has gone into it (unfortunately, not before a lot of money
was wasted in it).

My research leads me to ask if the current standard model of P2
assistance programs, providing onsite support, direct training,
financing, etc. is even the right model.  The International Labor Office
has come to conclusion, after 40 years of global experience with small
business assistance, that direct services to firms is not a good
strategy.  They now promote a market-oriented strategy that supports
intermediary organizations to provide TA on a market basis to target
firms.  They would likely argue that P2 organizations should focus
exclusively on consultants, business advisors, accountants and others
who have longer-term professional relationships with target firms and
who can weave P2 into their business services - if we show them how.
For an excellent paper on this new approach, and lots of great leads,
see http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/ent/sed/bds/seminar/.
Download the Reader on Business Development Services, it is really
eye-opening.  I hope at the Roundtable someone will pose for debate the
hypothesis, "Direct assistance to target firms is a waste of time for TA
organizations, we should focus only on intermediaries."  Seriously, the
ILO is the world's most experienced organization providing help to small
firms, and this is what they seem to have concluded after 40 years
trying just about everything.  What evidence do we have that they are

I know P2 program metrics are a hot topic at the moment, but if the
basic model is wrong the metrics won't get better.

Sorry I will miss the show.  Portland has great local beers to maximize
your waist.

Burt Hamner

Jini Cook
List Manager
217.244-6553     jcook@wmrc.uiuc.edu