With a focus on creating better government, more economic prosperity and stronger communities, House Republicans unveiled legislation to do what’s best for Pennsylvania by bringing sweeping changes to streamline state government and improve services for Pennsylvanians.

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, state expenditures along with handling all procurement, human resources and information technology. This model is used by the federal government and 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 would be comprised of bureaus which 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.

Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development

Pennsylvania has decentralized its job creation, economic development and business programs throughout several different state agencies. To improve economic development and strengthen job creation, this proposal would merge economic development, business and workforce development policy under a single agency.

Authored by Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), 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 would ensure economic development programs are under one department to improve coordination and foster greater private-sector job growth. It would provide a 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 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 would be designed to reduce the burden of state requirements by assisting job creators with compliance and economic development.

Department of Local Government and Community Affairs
Pennsylvania has the second most local governmental entities of any state. This proposal would merge different state agencies to create a new department to address local community needs and concerns. Introduced by Rep. Matt Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset), 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 governments. DLGCA would be divided into:
  • Center for Local Government
  • Bureau of Elections
  • State Athletic Commission
  • Office of Local Government Consultants

Department of Health and Human Services

Rep. Paul Schemel's (R-Franklin) proposal would merge 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. 

Merging would allow the two agencies to achieve savings while improving the quality-of-care provided to those in need. This legislation would also address the overlap and redundancies between state agencies that oversee social safety net programs. 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.

Consolidation of Economic Development Programs

This proposal would improve services for job seekers and prospective employers, while providing better value for the taxpayers who fund these programs.

Currently, Pennsylvania’s 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 Rep. Justin Walsh (R-Westmoreland), the programs that comprise the Commonwealth’s workforce system under the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Human Services would 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 would give the Commonwealth the tools to help connect the employers who have jobs open with a person who is qualified to fill it.

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. A proposal introduced by Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne) 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.

Consolidation of State IT Services and Strengthening State Cyber Security

This legislation reflects House Bill 1704 passed by the House State Government Committee last session. Under the bill, (OIT) is given the broad necessary powers to consolidate and oversee all IT systems and contracts within the executive branch. These powers include:
  • Consolidation of all IT functions, powers, duties, infrastructure and support services in state agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction.
  • Assist in the development and review the strategic plans of state agencies for handling IT
  • Identify and make recommendations on which services are common and can be shared throughout state government
  • Supervise and manage the procurement of all IT services
  • Serve as the liaison between state agencies and IT contractors
  • Establish standards and policies for IT procurement and cybersecurity
  • Establish and maintain a comprehensive IT Portal for all state agencies
  • Oversee and manage all state agency contracts regarding IT
As amended by the House State Government Committee, the legislation includes House Bill 2610 from last session which requires contractors to use software to verify billable hours. This software is meant to reduce fraudulent charges as seen with New York City where fraudulent billing caused a $62 million project to run over budget by more than $660 million.

Equally important to the IT consolidation within the bill, is the improvements made to the commonwealth’s cybersecurity capabilities. As cyber-attacks within the United States from hackers or hostile nations continue to increase, the commonwealth must begin to update our security. The director is also required to develop a two-year schedule to test the cybersecurity capabilities of all state agencies which are to be paid for by the respective agency. These cybersecurity audits/assessments are to be performed by a nationally recognized organization in the field of cybersecurity. The bill also establishes a committee including each branch of government and their IT staff to collaborate on how to handle future cybersecurity threats.

To read more about the full package of bills, click here.

To view the current organizational structure of state government, click here. As you will see the chart is large.