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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 21, 2018 08:33 AM
From: Representative Seth M. Grove and Rep. Stephen Bloom, Rep. Jonathan Fritz, Rep. Francis X. Ryan, Rep. Justin M. Walsh, Rep. Matthew D. Dowling
To: All House members
Subject: Reinventing State Government For the 21st Century
As part of last year’s budget, Governor Wolf proposed merging state agencies including merging the Department of Corrections with the Board for Probation and Parole. The governor also proposed merging the Departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging with the Department of Human Services. While this proposal did not make it into the final budget, we believe the governor was right to assess where the commonwealth can streamline state government to improve state services and reduce costs to taxpayers.

In this bipartisan spirit, we plan to introduce a legislative package which reinvent state government by establishing a new set of BEST (Better Government, Economic Prosperity, Stronger and Healthier Communities for Taxpayers) practices in Harrisburg.

The first element of this proposal is streamline state agencies to create a Better Government Under our proposal, the state government is streamlined by merging eight commonwealth agencies to operate government more efficiently and effectively.

These new agencies would be the Commonwealth Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development (DBTWD), the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs (DLGCA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Each merger in the legislation will require the adoption of a strategic plan detailing how the agencies described in the legislation are to be combined. To provide adequate time to prepare for the mergers, the legislation gives seven months following the effective date to develop the strategic plan.

While each merger is explained in greater detail below the strategic plan for each merger contains similar requirements. These requirements include:
  • 20% Reduction in administrative costs
  • Improve the delivery of government services to all residents
  • Identification, consolidation and elimination of redundant programs
  • Improving the use of state funds to reduce the cost to the taxpayer

Additionally, this proposal creates a better government by eliminating the state’s many outdated and unnecessary boards and commissions. These boards, many whom have not met in years, and no longer fulfill the purpose which they created for. In light of this these boards and commissions should be eliminated.

Our proposal will serve to foster Economic Prosperity by creating a one-stop shop for workers and job creators through DBTWD. At the same time our proposal would consolidate all economic development within the one state agency. This allows state government to coordinate these programs, while eliminating redundancies, to meet industry needs and match more workers with employment.

Finally, our proposal would work to establish Safer and Healthier Communities by realigning state government to be more responsive to the needs of local governments. This would be done through the DLGCA who would work with local governments to reduce the burden of complying with state regulations and mandates. In addition this proposal would create healthier communities by adopting Governor Wolf’s proposal for establishing the new Department of Health and Human Services while placing greater emphasis on the coordination to ensure continuity of care.

Should you have any questions about the individual proposals which make up the package please contact Jordan Grant by email at Jgrant@pahousegop.com.

Document #1

Introduced as HB2101

Description: Office of Management and Budget

This legislation would merge the Budget Office, the Department of General Services, the Office of Administration and the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning into one agency.  This agency, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), would oversee and supervise all aspects of the commonwealth’s governance including budget preparation, oversee state expenditures along with handling all procurement, HR and IT.  This model is used by the federal government and by 29 states to improve the coordination and management of governance.

In order to fulfill its important role and the duties of the merged agencies, the new agency is going to be comprised of several important bureaus.  OMB will be organized to include:
  • Bureau of Budget & Financial Management
  • Bureau of Planning and Policy
  • Bureau of State Facilities and Maintenance
  • Bureau of Procurement
  • Bureau of Human Resources
  • Bureau of Information Technology
  • Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO TIME)
These bureaus will be overseen by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget who is required to perform the duties previously given to the Secretary of the Budget, Secretary of General Services and Secretary of Administration  

Document #2

Introduced as HB2102

Description: Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development

Under current law, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has decentralized its job creation, economic development and business programs throughout several different state agencies.  To improve economic development and strengthen job creation, we plan introduce legislation merging economic development, business and workforce development policy under a single agency.

Introduced by Representative Frank Ryan, the proposal merges the Department of Labor and Industry with functions from the Department of Community and Economic Development and Department of State.  Under the legislation the new Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development (DBTWD) would be organized as follows:
  • Bureau of Trust Fund Management
  • Bureau of Safety and Labor and Management Relations
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Bureau of Workforce Development and Business Finance
  • Bureau of Marketing & Tourism
  • Bureau of Licensing (Occupational Licensing and Business/Non-Profit Licensing)
  • Office of Business Consultants
This legislation ensures economic development programs are under one department to improve coordination and foster greater private-sector job growth.  It will provide a uniform department which will allow Pennsylvania to better compete in a global economy.  This proposed merger also refocuses current agencies into the singular mission of private sector job growth and send the message Pennsylvania is open for business.

This proposal would establish the new department as a one-stop shop for job creators by forming the Office of Business Consultants.  The Office of Business Consultants is designed to reduce the burden of state requirements by assisting job creators with compliance and economic development. 

Document #3

Introduced as HB2103

Description: Department of Local Government and Community Affairs

Under Governor Ridge, the commonwealth merged multiple departments together to form the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).  This merger diluted the commonwealth’s focus on economic and community development by merging the two under DCED.  

Pennsylvania has the second most local governmental entities of any state with almost 5,000 local governments.  This proposal would merge different state agencies to create a new state department to address local community needs and concerns.  Introduced by Representative Matt Dowling, this proposal would create the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs (DLGCA).   This department would be comprised of powers and authorities from the Department of State and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)

The department would be overseen by a cabinet secretary who would act as Secretary of the Commonwealth, which is a constitutional position. The department would oversee and assist counties across the state with managing elections. The department would also handle local government grant and tax credit programs transferred from DCED.  Similar to the newly created Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development, the DLGCA would have an office of Local Government Consultant.  The role of this office would be as a liaison between the department and local governments assisting with grant applications and other issues facing local government.  DLGCA will be divided into:
  • Center for Local Government
  • Bureau of Elections
  • State Athletic Commission
  • Office of Local Government Consultants

Document #4

Introduced as HB2104

Description: Department of Health and Human Services

In his budget, Governor Wolf once again proposed merging the Department of Health with the Department of Human Services. The unification of the two agencies would achieve savings for taxpayers while improving the delivery of services to Pennsylvanians. The proposed unification presents us with a significant opportunity to reinvent state government, streamline bureaucracy, and break down the silos that prevent agencies from serving residents most effectively.

We applaud Governor Wolf for this bold proposal as merging the two agencies allows for the Commonwealth to achieve savings while improving the quality-of-care provided to those in need. Introduced by Representative Steve Bloom this legislation would address the overlap and redundancies between state agencies who oversee our social safety net programs. 

An example of this overlap can be seen through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women Infants and Children Program (WIC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF). Each program is similar in nature and often they serve overlapping populations. Many individuals receiving WIC are also receiving SNAP due to the limited types of food and supplies that can be purchased with each. Yet SNAP and TANF are housed in DHS and WIC is housed in the Department of Health. WIC is distributed to individuals by check and SNAP and TANF are distributed on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

By merging the two agencies into the Department of Health and Human Services, the new agency can coordinate these programs to provide service needed to those in need. As a result, we can improve care while saving taxpayer money.

Document #5

Introduced as HB2105

Description: Elimination of Outdated Boards and Commissions

Currently, there are many state boards and commissions which have been underutilized or have become outdated and never were repealed. These boards or commissions, listed below, have failed to meet for years and in most cases no longer issue reports for us to see any progress in their work.  Our proposal introduced by Representative Jonathan Fritz equates to “cleaning out the closet.” During our efforts to restructure, streamline and reinvent government we should be looking at every area where we can remove waste in Harrisburg. This is an easy place for us to begin.

The following boards and commissions would be eliminated:

• Interstate Rail Passenger Advisory Council
• Pennsylvania Public Television Network Commission
• Canine Health Board
• Community Service Advisory Board
• Industrial Resource Center Strategic Advisory Board
• Small Business Advocacy Council
• Adult Basic and Literacy Education Interagency Coordinating Council (ABLE ICC)
• Advisory Committee on Probation
• Energy Development Authority
• Health Careers Leadership Council
• Joint Committee to Review Cost of Living
• Legislative Representative for Collective Bargaining
• Lobbying Disclosure Regulations Committee
• Pennsylvania Quality Leadership Awards Council
• Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee
• Voting Standards Development Board


Document #6

Description: Consolidation of Economic Development Programs
As part of the continuing effort to make the government more efficient and effective, please join me as a co-sponsor of legislation to improve the Commonwealth’s workforce development system. This proposal will improve services for job seekers and prospective employers, while providing better value for the taxpayers who fund these programs.

Currently, our workforce system is fragmented and spread across a number of state agencies. This leads to duplication of services and missed opportunities, both for prospective employers and those who are seeking to obtain employment. When the federal government re-authorized the federal workforce development system in 2014, an emphasis was placed on coordination of services. Progress has been made, and this proposal builds on that foundation.

Under this proposal, introduced by Representative Justin Walsh the programs that comprise our workforce system under the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Human Services will be consolidated under the direction of one state agency.

The need for a qualified and available workforce is one of the most common issues raised by employers who are seeking to expand or remain in Pennsylvania. This proposal will give the Commonwealth the tools to help connect the employers who have jobs open with a person who is qualified to fill it.