Dolcini Describes His Department

First in a Series from his Presentation at the Almond Board Conf.
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Department of Pesticide Regulation is uniquely positioned to serve the varied interest of California, noted Val Dolcini, DPR Director, appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in Oct. 2019.

“For those that don’t know about us, it’s a department where science management and policy intersect to better protect public health and the environment, and hopefully to find common ground on some of the most challenging regulatory, legal, and political issues facing California,” he said.

Dolcini said DPR is a department that’s always in the crosshairs, always under the microscope, and often at the center of controversy, whether the decisions are large or small. “But, it’s also a department full of dedicated public servants, highly trained scientists, talented policy experts, hardworking attorneys, and many others at every level of the organization,” he said.

“In my first few months at DPR, we’ve worked on issues ranging from the first-ever cancellation of a widely used pesticide, issues related to cannabis enforcement, legislation that would ban certain rodenticides,” he said. “We have also focused on several serious pesticide drift incidents in the Central Valley, multi-agency conversations about endangered pollinators, and more trips to the Capitol than I thought possible.”

“So suffice it to say, we are a very busy department of government, and my colleagues and I aren’t simply counting the days, but, in the words of Muhammad Ali, we’re making those days count. We’re continuing to build a culture of customer-oriented accountability in every branch, every office, and at every level of DPR,” explained Dolcini.

Dolcini gave examples: “In a typical year, DPR receives and processes about 5,000 different submissions. This includes new product registrations and amendments to currently registered products. The submissions may be evaluated by multiple branches within DPR, before registration is granted or an amendment is accepted.”

This process is complex, and, as a result, DPR is constantly looking for ways to improve the process and provide that customer service to registrants. They are working to improve process efficiencies in each of the evaluation stations for these submissions.

“The turnaround time at the chemistry station for new products has gone from about a month to just several days,” said Dolcini. “We’ve also doubled the staff at our ecotoxicology station, and we’re starting to see significant reductions in the backlogs there.”

Dolcini also said that DPR is trying to aggressively re-launch the electronic data reporting system, which will now be known as CALPEST, California Pesticide Electronic Submission Tracking. This will allow for a more streamlined review of these submissions by DPR staff around the department. “Hopefully, it will help identify gaps in the submission process early in the process so that we don’t have to go back to registrants, asking for additional information.