Shapiro licensing plan includes money-back guarantee

Tired of waiting for that professional license?

  • If it takes too long, Gov. Josh Shapiro wants to give you your money back, a pledge outlined in an executive order he signed on Jan. 31.
  • First, state agencies have to figure out what is “too long.”
  • The order directs state agencies to catalog all the licenses, certificates and permits they issue, the rules outlining how long agencies should take to process applications, and the fees that are charged.
  • Agencies have 90 days to comply,
  • “Pennsylvanians work hard to keep our economy moving, and the commonwealth should work just as hard to process their applications,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Why is this happening: Long and unpredictable wait times for state-issued licenses, certificates and permits needed by businesses and workers.

  • Shapiro’s office cited a 2021 story from NPR showing that Pennsylvania had some of the longest wait times in the country to issue nursing licenses, a critical need during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • It’s not just nurses. More than one million workers need a license from Pennsylvania to do their jobs, ranging from doctors and hair stylists to accountants and real estate agents, according to a 2018 report by the Department of State.
  • Under the governor’s direction, agencies will eventually set a date-certain, money-back guarantee for responding to applicants for those licenses, as well as other professional permits and certificates.
  • The order also reflects an interest in what private-sector observers might call “digital transformation” in the pursuit of better customer service.
  • Shapiro is directing state agencies to review existing digital services used to apply for licenses, certificates and permits, and then work to modernize them.

The background: Shapiro’s order builds on efforts undertaken during the Wolf administration to update the state’s licensing process.


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