Like them or hate them, Sunset reviews are effective and here to stay. That’s why 42 out of the 50 states in the USA have a Sunset Commission. Sunset reviews are essentially no different than performance reviews at a job – they’re not fun, but they’re necessary for good business. The questions that they seek to answer, at least at a macro level, are: Does the state benefit from having you stay on? Are you fulfilling your mission? Are you still relevant and efficient?
These questions are important because the relevance and efficiency of the agency affect many people – the state government machinery, the board members, the professionals that you regulate, employees, and even the entire taxpaying citizenry of a state.
Though Sunset reviews are scheduled well in advance, you still have an organization to run. In the daily grind, time often slips by, leaving most state agencies off-guard when the reviewers arrive. Don’t let that happen to you. Many of the changes that you may need to make to remain unscathed through the Sunset could take several months to implement and even longer to “bear fruit.” Begin preparation at least three years in advance so you can be ready when the day comes.
Efficiency is Important
Sunset provisions are widely used today throughout the states, but their specifics vary almost as widely. According to Mercatus Research, only three states have never had a sunset law, and five have repealed their sunset laws. Some are comprehensive, some discretionary, but all of them are built to create efficiencies in the government and the state budgets. Colorado was the first state to implement a Sunset Review board in 1976 in response to problems with regulatory boards; Texas followed suit, setting up its own Sunset Advisory Commission in Texas the next year in 1977.
The State of Texas reports that between 1982 and 2013, every dollar spent on the Sunset Commission earned the State $25 in return, an ROI any private company would covet. As of the 2015 Legislative session in Texas, 83 agencies had been abolished by the Commission, an average of more than two agencies per year. 37 of those agencies were completely abolished, while the remaining 46 had their functions transferred to other agencies.
These commissions are effective at what they do, and that’s a benefit to the state. If the agency isn’t fulfilling its purpose or isn’t doing so efficiently, it’s hard to argue that taxpayer money should continue to fund them, just like a non-profitable business unit in a private company is either divested or shuttered.
Do not take the Sunset lightly. Running an agency is hard work; don’t let all that effort go to waste. Take steps to prepare.
Being Prepared is Key to Surviving
The trend has grown in recent years: Florida created a Sunset commission in 2006, California in 2010, and Minnesota in 2011. Sunset reviews periodically and objectively evaluate the agencies in scope. The decision is one of the following: continue as is, transfer functions, or abolish. Being “sunset” is therefore a very real possibility.
An analysis of the more drastic sunset recommendations reveals a common set of problems.
- High processing and/or resolution times for cases
- High or increasing work backlog
- Unclear, inefficient, or inconsistent complaint processing
- Inefficient or prioritization of investigations, inspections, or applications
- Non-conformance with model standards or common practices
- Outdated, insufficient, or non-existent criminal background checks
- Extreme fiscal inefficiency
The best way to be prepared for a Sunset review is to identify and rectify deficiencies two to three years in advance. Implementing a system that performs end-to-end licensing, enforcement, and customer service is one efficient way to address most of the above. Choosing a reliable system will help you create efficiencies that improve your metrics and can help ensure the agency’s continuation.
This type of technology won’t only improve your chances of survival as an agency; it will make you better at what you do. Technology allows your organization to adopt legislative changes rapidly, decrease your cost operations significantly, and make you a better and nimbler agency that is a benefit to your state and is structured for survival.
Gov2Biz is a complete Licensing Lifecycle management platform that can help you address all of these potential problems and become more financially efficient. If your agency is scheduled for a sunset review in the next two to three years, contact us today. Give us an hour of your time, and we’ll show you how you can prepare for success.