Program Allows Operators to Upload Files to Agency Digitally
In yet another move to take advantage of improvements in technologies, the Railroad Commission today launched its new Pipeline Inspection Permitting Evaluation System (RRC PIPES).
RRC PIPES is a centralized cloud-based portal, which streamlines agency processes and provides a valuable tool for RRC’s Pipeline Safety staff and operators to upload documents, including inspection and incident reports, and complaints, while automatically making more documents available to the public.
Not only does the new system improve transparency, allowing the public to see inspection and violation information 24/7, but it reduces staff time spent working on data entry and processing open records requests, helping Pipeline Safety staff focus more of their efforts on the oversight of about 1,600 operators and 248,000 miles of intrastate pipelines which include: natural gas and LP-gas distribution lines; hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission lines; and hazardous liquid, and natural gas regulated gathering lines.
Inspection packages uploaded by pipeline inspectors are made publicly available once the internal review process has been completed and a letter has been sent to the operator.
The system also makes it easier for operators. It reduces the amount of paperwork they must mail to the RRC and allows for the payment of fees online. Operators may, after becoming authenticated users, now submit and upload applications and other documents for review and approval by the RRC.
“PIPES is the latest example of our work to modernize the Railroad Commission and take advantage of the most advanced digital tools available,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Our goal is to find efficiencies where we can so staff can focus on their core duties. PIPES makes data more readily available for us to analyze and for the public to view. Online systems like PIPES help us better serve the public and help with the experience of operators in complying with our rules and requirements.”
Other recent advancements at the RRC include the launching of an award-wining database in 2019 called RRC OIL (Online Inspection Lookup), which is updated daily and allows the public to see inspection and violation information 24/7, and the CASES portal (Case Administration Service Electronic System) in 2020, which enabled the agency to process all hearings and enforcement case types electronically, reducing the reliance on paper and automatically making documents for the cases available to the public.