Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Interim Study Looks at Ways to Streamline State Permits and Licensing

Interim Study Looks at Ways to Streamline State Permits and Licensing

Streamlining the thousands of licenses and permits issued by various state agencies is critical to modernizing state government, House members were told at an interim study today.

Various agencies testified at the study about efforts they have taken to make permits and licenses more convenient to obtain, especially by making them available online.

“Often, Oklahomans who need a series of permits or licenses must encounter a long line of bureaucracy, including multiple trips to several locations,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, chairman of the House Government Modernization Committee. “Technology has advanced to a point where these licenses and permits should be made available online and they should be easy to obtain without mounds of paperwork and unnecessary use of staff resources.”

Health Commissioner Terry Cline said it is the goal of the Health Department to have all of their license applications online by July. The department maintains licenses for 108,000 individuals and over 35,000 businesses in Oklahoma, many of which have multiple certification requirements.

An official with the Insurance Department said the agency was able to reduce or reallocate its workforce by 35 percent following implementation of online licensing in 2007. The transition not only saved the department money, but improved customer service and accessibility.

Before electronic processing of licensing was available at the department, there was as much as a five week processing time for new and renewal resident applications. The department also received about 66,000 calls in a year with an average hold time in excess of 10 minutes.

Currently, because of online capabilities, a new or renewal license application can be processed in as little as two hours. Phone calls were reduced by about 20,000 after online capabilities were added. The need for storage space was also reduced as records are now stored electronically.

“These efforts are not just about saving the state money, which is obviously one of the goals, but also improving services to our citizens,” said House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. “We have worked hard to make Oklahoma a business-friendly state, and streamlining licenses and permits will be just another step toward that goal, which will help attract jobs to our state.”

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