Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Gov. Shapiro Issues Order Directing Agencies To Set Deadlines For Permit Reviews, Requires Money-Back Guarantee If Deadlines Not Met; A Similar Program Started At DEP In 1995

On January 31, Gov. Josh Shapiro signed
Executive Order 2023-07 to improve the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes, beginning a comprehensive review of how long it takes agencies to process applications and how workers and businesses apply online. 

The Executive Order will help to establish a date-certain for each license, permit, or certificate by which applicants will hear back – if applicants don’t receive a response by that date, the agency responsible will refund their application fee.

Under this Executive Order, the Governor’s Office will also conduct a review of the existing digital services that Pennsylvanians use to apply for licenses, certificates, and permits and work to modernize those application platforms and services to better serve Pennsylvanians.

Unpredictability and long wait times for Commonwealth-issued licenses, certificates, and permits can create unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvania workers and businesses. 

For example, an NPR analysis from 2021 found that Pennsylvania had some of the longest wait times in the country for issuing nursing licenses. More than half of the nursing applicants who applied in Pennsylvania that year waited at least three months to hear back.

In addition to nursing licenses, the Commonwealth issues hundreds of licenses, certificates, and permits, from barber and salon licenses to teacher certifications to business permits. 

Under the direction of the Governor, the Administration will work expeditiously to ensure Pennsylvanians get responses in a timely manner – and the Shapiro Administration will have real skin in the game. 

Governor Shapiro is making clear his Administration will be customer-service oriented and that state government will work harder to get them a response, so that they can pursue their dreams.

Gov. Shapiro said at the press conference, “The speed in which we will act on a barber license will be quicker than a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit for a major construction project.

“We will sacrifice nothing when it comes to public health, public safety and environmental protection. 

“If during the course of this 90-day review, it’s determined by an individual agency that they need additional help in order to meet the processing times, then that will be something we’d consider with lawmakers when it comes time for a budget or we may reallocate within an existing budget line.”

Click Here for a copy of the Executive Order. Click Here for complete announcement.

DEP Money-Back Guarantee

In 1995, Gov. Tom Ridge issued Executive Order 1995-5 directing the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a Money-Back Guarantee Permit Review Program setting deadlines for permit reviews and requiring permit fees to be returned if those deadlines were not met..

The original program covered over 700 permits and approvals at DEP, without eliminating opportunities for public review.

From 1995 to 2002, over 125,000 permit applications were reviewed under the program and only 22 missed the review deadlines.

In 2012, Gov. Tom Corbett updated the program by issuing Executive Order 2012-11 making changes to the program that built on the successes of the original order, Gov. Corbett said.

Gov. Corbett's order not only set deadlines for review of permits, but DEP programs developed "Standard Operating Procedures" telling staff and applicants how they review permits and the statutory and regulatory basis for their actions.

DEP reports each week on its website how many permits actions it takes and how many of those actions are within the Permit Decision Guarantee deadlines.

For example, for the week of January 23, DEP reported it took action on 690 permits, 93 percent within the permit review deadlines.

Since January 1, DEP took action on 2,630 permits, 93 percent within the Permit Decision Guarantee deadlines.

The new Executive Order issued by Gov. Shapiro does not rescind Gov. Corbett's Order covering DEP.


-- PennLive - Jan Murphy: Shapiro Offers A Money-Back Guarantee On PA’s Licensing And Permitting Process

-- PA Capital-Star: Shapiro Launches Review To Mitigate Red Tape In PA Professional Licensure Process

-- Inquirer: How Josh Shapiro Is Starting His Administration With A Pro-Business Focus, And A ‘Money-Back’ Guarantee

-- AP: Shapiro Order Aims To Reduce Wait Times For Professional Licensing

Related Articles:

-- Natural Gas Industry, Senate Republicans Launch Effort To Unleash The Industry, Reduce Regulation, Call For Automatic Approval Of Permits, Limit Public Comments  [PaEN] 

-- More Than Half Of E&S Permit Applications Submitted Are Incomplete; Consultants Take 6 Weeks To Respond To Deficiencies  [PaEN] 

[Posted: January 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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