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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 13, 2017 05:13 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker and Sen. Camera Bartolotta, Sen. Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Consolidation of the Departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services
In February, as part of his budget address, Governor Wolf proposed the consolidation of the departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services in an effort to, “deliver public health, social, and human services to Pennsylvanians in the most efficient and effective way.”

The goals of streamlining bureaucracy, improving service delivery, and saving money are always appealing. However, given the number of programs, employees, and dollars involved, this is an immensely complicated undertaking, with an incredibly short time frame for transition.

Following four joint hearings of the Senate Aging and Youth, Appropriations, Health and Human Services, and Intergovernmental Operations committees examining how the proposal would affect agencies and individuals across Pennsylvania, it is clear that much work remains.

In the near future, we will be offering a resolution calling for the creation of a process to determine how to proceed.

Under our model, an Intermediary will be appointed to lead an examination of the options, and with support from an Evaluation Committee and a Legislative Oversight Committee, will be responsible for gathering stakeholder input. A final report will be generated offering recommendations on whether to consolidate or not consolidate any or all four state agencies. The report will also include specific suggestions on how we can achieve cost savings without causing disruption for local service providers and recipients, irrespective of any potential mergers.

Should it be determined that consolidation is the best course of action, the Intermediary and the Evaluation Committee will be charged with developing an implementation plan and presenting it to the Legislative Oversight Committee for public vetting and final approval.

Specifically, the plan must address cost savings and efficiencies to be gained, responsibility for execution, impacts for consumers and providers, and metrics to determine success.

Any idea to increase accountability in state government deserves a serious, thorough review, but a decision of this magnitude requires a deliberative process that allows for ample community input and analysis.

Our framework offers a more strategic approach that will provide sufficient detail in determining an appropriate path forward.

We hope you will join us in cosponsoring this measure.

Introduced as SR157