This week the Iowa House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation that streamlines and realigns the state government of Iowa. It has been nearly 40 years since the organization of the state government has been evaluated and restructured in order to serve Iowans. In that time the number of cabinet-level departments and agencies has grown to 37 agencies. Within these agencies are many duplicative and redundant services that will move under appropriate departments to maximize the services provided to Iowans.
By aligning functions and services that are similar, taxpayers will have a more straightforward process for interacting with the government and receiving the proper services without unnecessarily going to several agencies. One of the biggest changes is bringing in all licensing and regulatory services into the newly named Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licenses. Currently, the licensing and management of 136 professional licenses is overseen by 11 different state agencies. Now when contractors work on a project they will only have to coordinate with one agency in order to complete various inspection aspects of the project.
With such an important task as moving boards, authorities, and departments into their new locations the State Government Committee assigned a seven-member subcommittee to review the legislation and to speak with departments to ensure smooth transitions and that these policy changes would work. The subcommittee then held 6 public meetings to hear from the public and the department directors to flesh out concerns. The State Government Committee then considered the bill and adopted a 40-page amendment addressing concerns that were raised before and during found in the subcommittee process.
While there was an undue amount of hyperbolic rhetoric about the size of the bill, 1513 pages, the first 880 pages largely dealt with the merger of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health which has been in the works for over a year. The remaining changes made in the bill are not changes to services provided to Iowans, but moving boards and oversight to more appropriate departments in a way to make efficient use of staffing and resources. Above all the legislation aims to provide more streamlined access to government services for Iowans.
The legislation, now heading to the Governor’s desk for signature, was an overdue measure to ensure that the government is working for the taxpayers. Consolidating existing services from 37 agencies to 16 will better pool resources and provide stronger oversight to ensure the best service possible for Iowans.