Covering subsequences with sets of permutations arises in many applications, including event-sequence testing. Given a set of subsequences to cover, one is often interested in knowing the fewest number of permutations required to cover each subsequence, and in finding an explicit construction of such a set of permutations that has size close to or equal to the minimum possible. The construction of such permutation coverings has proven to be computationally difficult. While many examples for permutations of small length have been found, and strong asymptotic behavior is known, there are few explicit constructions for permutations of intermediate lengths. Most of these are generated from scratch using greedy algorithms. We explore a different approach here. Starting with a set of permutations with the desired coverage properties, we compute local changes to individual permutations that retain the total coverage of the set. By choosing these local changes so as to make one permutation less "essential" in maintaining the coverage of the set, our method attempts to make a permutation completely non-essential, so it can be removed without sacrificing total coverage. We develop a post-optimization method to do this and present results on sequence covering arrays and other types of permutation covering problems demonstrating that it is surprisingly effective.