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EPA Office of Water SharePoint Search

Innovate, Inc. Creates a SharePoint Search Capability For EPA Office Of Water To Share and Access National 404 Program Database
Executive Summary

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States. EPA users with access to the Atrazine Monitoring Program (AMP) SharePoint intranet application are now able to perform custom searches of publications, regulations, guidance, executive orders, 404(c) vetoes, 404(q) elevations, case-law, trainings, comment letters, 401 certification, and geographical data.

The Subject

The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is the federal agency that is primarily responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act of 1972 (“CWA”). The CWA is the principal statute governing water quality in the United States. The goal of the CWA is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a). Within the EPA, the Office of Water (OW) is responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act among several other statutes. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.

 

Under Prime Contractors, Attain, LLC (2020-2021) & IntePros Federal (2021-Present), EPA Office of Water sought a solution for the Atrazine Monitoring Program (AMP) SharePoint intranet application such that they are able to organize, search, and quickly reference Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) publications, data, and other resources. The client is running Microsoft Office SharePoint 365 software on a FedRAMP Government Cloud platform.

The Challenge

When updating the AMP SharePoint site from classic to modern pages, the out-of-the box SharePoint search web parts lacked the flexibility to display and highlight contents to meet the following system requirements:

  • Select resource type through dropdown menu (homepage main menu items), 

  • Ability to upload, including a way to capture document formatting instructions (i.e. readable pdf, Link to Esri data layer in geoplatform, etc.), 

  • User-assigned subcategory tags through dropdown menu (i.e. Resource Type, Project Type, Issue Area, EPA Region), and

  • Additional fields to accurately include GIS data layer resources.

 

Although modern PnP search allows the dynamic search feature EPA was looking for, we had difficulty trying to clear the security concerns with EPA to get the PnP Search App approved. Working with the EPA OMS to find a solution, Innovate prepared the estimates, whitepapers, and risk analysis for two potential solutions:

  1. Continue to wait and work with EPA to get the PnP App approved

  2. Implement a classic/custom search function without using the PnP Search

 

If we were to implement a custom search function without using the PnP Search, we would need to address two types of security errors: 1,024 instances of using web part properties without escaping and 20 instances of using script URLs. The 1,024 instances of using web part properties without escaping can be remedied. However, the 20 instances of using script URLs may not be addressed or fixed. We estimated 20-30 hours to fix the 1,024 web part property references and an additional 10-15 hours to test which will include deploying and verifying that all 5 web parts in the solution work properly.

 

If we were to move forward without using PnP, there would be a total of 11 SharePoint pages requiring customization with between 80 and 135 hours to update and implement a custom solution. The custom solution would provide the similar search features, filters, and refiners, but it may not have all the dynamic UI features in the PnP that was demonstrated to the customers. For example, there would be no ability to choose between different layouts and so forth.

The Solution

Initially, the Innovate team researched and attempted to remediate the security issues in v3, including preparing whitepapers to support the security waiver process for the PnP Modern Search App.  In March 2021, a new PnP Modern Search v4 was released addressing the security concern that was in v3.  The Innovate team supported the EPA OMS software security scan, causing v4 to be approved and deployed to the EPA SharePoint environment in April 2021.

The Results & Outcomes
  • 100% of the search requirements met

  • 6 Document libraries created

  • 10 Custom search pages created

  • 6 Search schemas created

  • Thousands of possible search results are now quickly refined through the development of document specific classification (tags/content types)

  • End users are now driven to the intended content quicker with less clicks

  • Previously tagged documents existing in peripheral data repositories are now easily mapped and migrated into the AMP search tool.

Acknowledgements
  • Project Manager, Frankie Cheung

  • Subject Matter Experts, James Powers and Mark Gordon 

  • Attain, LLC Contract Manager, Seth Pennington

  • IntePros Federal, Program Manager, Greg Wallace

Publication Notes

Internal-Use Categorization
  • Industry - Public Sector

  • Specific Client - EPA, Office of Water

  • Solution - SharePoint

  • Specific Solutions -