State agencies to prioritize customer service under new executive order

Ed Gruver//January 31, 2023

State agencies to prioritize customer service under new executive order

Ed Gruver//January 31, 2023

To improve Pennsylvania’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes, Gov. Josh Shapiro on Tuesday signed an executive order setting standard response times and money-back guarantee. 

Shapiro’s action begins what his administration expects will be an in-depth review of the length of time it takes agencies to process applications and how businesses and workers apply online. The executive order will help establish a date for applicants to hear back regarding every license, permit, or certificate. Should applicants not hear back by that date, agencies must refund the application fee. 

“State government’s top priority should be serving the people of our Commonwealth, but for far too long, Pennsylvanians have had to endure long wait times, outdated systems, and bureaucratic delays,” Shapiro said in a statement. “They deserve a government that works efficiently and effectively to get them answers.” 

Shapiro said his administration will work to make certain that citizens know the length of time it takes for agencies to respond and if they fail to respond by a certain date, will get their money returned. 

“Pennsylvanians work hard to keep our economy moving,” Shapiro stated, “and the Commonwealth should work just as hard to process their applications.” 

Lengthy wait times for state-issued licenses, certificates, and permits create obstacles for both businesses and workers. Pennsylvania, for instance, has some of the lengthiest wait times in the nation for issuing nursing licenses, which sometimes take as long as three months, according to a 2021 NPR analysis. 

Shapiro is having state agencies, boards, and commissions catalog the licenses, certificates, and permits they issue, along with the statutory authority governing the length of time they must process applications and the application fees. 

Agencies have 90 days to send this information to the Governor’s Office, which will analyze, review, and establish efficient application processing times for all occupational permits or licenses based on agency recommendations. 

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said the executive order launches Pennsylvania on a new path that makes its citizens and customer service a top priority. 

“People shouldn’t have to suffer through long wait times to put their skills and knowledge to good use,” Schmidt said. “Together with the Governor’s Office, we will work to ensure Pennsylvanians can get to work in a timely fashion without having red tape hold them back.” 

Tuesday’s executive order builds on Shapiro’s initiative to provide efficient and expedited customer service. Last week, he created the Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a one-stop shop for state businesses to grow.