Another day, another Executive Order from the Governor.
Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an Executive Order on Tuesday to improve the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes. The order calls for a comprehensive review of how long it takes agencies to process applications and how workers and businesses apply online.
As written, the EO will help to establish a date whereby applicants for a license, permit or certificate will receive a response. Should that date not be met, the agency responsible will refund the applicants’ 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be serving the people of our Commonwealth, but for far too long, Pennsylvanians have had to endure long wait times, outdated systems, and bureaucratic delays. They deserve a government that works efficiently and effectively to get them answers,” said Shapiro.
“Under my Administration, Pennsylvanians will have certainty – they will know how long it will take for agencies to respond, and if an agency doesn’t live up to that promise, they deserve their money back. Pennsylvanians work hard to keep our economy moving, and the Commonwealth should work just as hard to process their applications.”
Shapiro noted that workers in the Keystone State are often forced to wait months while an inefficient system delays their professional license, permit or certification. His directive calls for all state agencies, boards, and commissions to compile a catalog of the licenses, certificates, and permits they issue – including the statutory authority governing the length of time they must process applications and the application fee charged by each agency.
Commonwealth agencies will have 90 days to send this information to the Governor’s Office, which will then review, analyze, and establish efficient application processing times for all occupational permits or licenses based on agency recommendations.
As an example, more than half of the 12,000 nurses who were issued licenses to work in Pennsylvania in 2021 waited for three months or longer to get them, according to an NPR data analysis. The delays came during a year when as many as 1 in 4 Pennsylvania nurse positions went unfilled, according to a survey from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
Nurses and health care groups say the failure to promptly certify nurses added to the critical staffing shortage during some of the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’re emotionally exhausted; they’re physically exhausted. We add to that the frustration of not being able to get your license,” says Betsy Snook, CEO of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. “Now you can’t even work. You’re at the mercy of the State Board of Nursing.”
“Today, with this Executive Order, Governor Shapiro has launched Pennsylvania on a new path. This Administration is making the people of Pennsylvania and customer service our top priority,” said Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt. “People shouldn’t have to suffer through long wait times to put their skills and knowledge to good use. 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.”
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.