Reinventing State Government For the 21st Century

As part of last year’s budget, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed merging numerous state agencies including combining the Department of Corrections with the Board for Probation and Parole and merging the Departments of Health, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Aging with the Department of Human Services. While these proposals did not make it into the final budget, a number of representatives believe the governor was right to assess where Pennsylvania can streamline state government to improve services and reduce costs to taxpayers.

In this bipartisan spirit, Reps. Seth Grove (R-York), Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne), Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) and Justin Walsh (R-Westmoreland) have joined me in introducing a package of bills to streamline six Commonwealth agencies and merge them into three improved departments. These new agencies would be the Commonwealth Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development (DBTWD) and the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs (DLGCA).

Each merger in the legislation would require the adoption of a strategic plan detailing how the agencies described in the legislation would be combined. To provide adequate time to prepare for the mergers, the legislation allows for a strategic plan to be developed within seven months each bill’s adoption.

While each merger is explained in greater detail below, the strategic plan for each merger contains similar requirements. These requirements include:

• 20 percent reduction in administrative costs.
• Improving 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.


Office of Management and Budget

House Bill 52, introduced by Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), 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, human relations and information technology. This model is used by the federal government and by 29 states and has improved the coordination and management of governance.

To fulfill its important role and the duties of the merged agencies, the new agency would be comprised of several important bureaus. OMB would 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 would 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

Click here to review the proposed organizational chart for the Office of Management and Budget.


Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development

Under current law, Pennsylvania has decentralized its job creation, economic development and business programs throughout several different state agencies. To improve economic development and strengthen job creation, House Bill 53, introduced by Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), would merge economic development, business and workforce development policy under a single agency.
The proposal would merge 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 would provide a uniform department to allow Pennsylvania to better compete in a global economy. This proposed merger would also refocus current agencies into the singular mission of private sector job growth and sends this 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 would be designed to reduce the burden of state requirements by assisting job creators with compliance and economic development.

Click here to review the proposed organizational chart for the Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development.


Department of Local Government and Community Affairs

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

The third proposal would merge different state agencies to create a new state department to address local community needs and concerns. Introduced by Rep. Matt Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset), House Bill 54 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 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 with managing elections and 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 would be divided into:

• Center for Local Government.
• Bureau of Elections.
• State Athletic Commission.
• Office of Local Government Consultants.

Click here to review the proposed organizational chart for the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs.

Improving Delivery of Care

Department of Health and Human Services

Gov. Tom Wolf during his first term this legislation proposed merging the Department of Health with the Department of Human Services. We applaud Gov. Wolf for this bold proposal and believe merging these two agencies will allow the Commonwealth to achieve savings while improving the quality-of-care provided to those in need. House Bill 55, introduced by Rep. Schemel, would address the overlap in care and prevent redundancies in our social safety net programs and allows us to direct more money into care. Under this legislation the new department would be divided into the following bureaus:

• Public Health
• Medical Programs & Pharmacy Services
• Health Care Quality & Licensure
• Eligibility & Self Sustainability
• Developmental Programs
• Children, Youth, & Families
• Child Development & Early Learning

Click here to review the proposed organizational chart for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Protecting the Commonwealth from Cyberattacks

Consolidation of IT Programs

The Commonwealth’s IT systems have repeatedly made the front page, over the past several years, and none of it for good reasons. Whether it was the State Police Radio Network not working properly after 20 years and over $800 million spent, the near collapse of the Unemployment Compensation Call Centers or a malware attack on one of the four legislative caucus, it has become clear our IT system is woefully inadequate.

To improve the procurement and delivery of IT services, Rep. Grove introduced House Bill 56, which would consolidate management and procurement of the Commonwealth’s IT under the Office of Information Technology. This agency, under the Office of Administration, would coordinate with existing agencies and establish IT standards for procurement of IT goods. services with the authority to ensure contracts are completed on time, on budget and meet performance expectations.

The office will not only protect taxpayer money but will serve to protect taxpayer information and improve cybersecurity by establishing standards and ensuring agencies comply with these standards. Additionally, the office will help facilitate the coordination of cybersecurity practices and a review of emerging threats in the newly created Joint Cybersecurity Oversight Committee.

Elimination of Outdated Boards and Commissions

Rep. Jonathan Fritz has introduced House Bill 57, which would eliminate 10 outdated boards and commissions. Each of these boards and commissions are entities created by the legislature which have not met in several years and or issued the report required under law in several years. The boards and commissions eliminated under the proposal are:

• Interstate Rail Passenger Advisory Council
• Pennsylvania Public Television Network Commission
• Industrial Resource Center Strategic Advisory Board
• Small Business Advocacy Council
• Advisory Committee on Probation
• Joint Committee to Review Cost of Living
• Legislative Representative for Collective Bargaining
• Pennsylvania Quality Leadership Awards Council
• Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee
• The Weather Modification Board

Consolidation of Economic Development Programs

Rep. Justin Walsh has introduced House Bill 58, which consolidate economic development programs under one state agency. As the Commonwealth currently has programs to assist in economic development spread throughout 4 separate agencies this proposal would move those programs into one singular agency. This would not only eliminate redundancies, but assist the Commonwealth with targeting specific goals as we continue in our effort to grow Pennsylvania’s economy.