Licensing backlogs holding back critical sectors of Wisconsin workforce.
The News: A new policy brief from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) suggests potential reforms to improve the state’s licensing backlog at the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform is holding an informational hearing to discuss licensing backlogs at DSPS, Wednesday at 10:00 am.
The Quote: WILL Policy Director Kyle Koenen said, “Forcing individuals to wait weeks or months to receive a license to work robs them of their ability to earn a living. DSPS must get a grip on this backlog, and that starts with identifying the extent of the problem. These reforms offer temporary relief and ongoing accountability while more impactful, structural reforms are considered.”
Background: In recent months there has been extensive media coverage on the failures of DSPS to issue licenses in a timely manner. WILL surveyed legislative offices to better understand the extent of these backlogs, and found a number of common themes amongst complaints including months long wait times, lack of responsiveness from DSPS, and long call wait times.
Backlogged: Licensing Delays Keep People from Entering the Workforce, by Policy Director, Kyle Koenen, offers suggestions to improve transparency and accountability, while also giving an alternative pathway for individuals to enter the workforce while waiting for their license to be processed. This is accomplished in three ways:
Publicly Set Goals for Processing Time – First, DSPS should set a processing timeline goal for each license they administer.
Institute a Public Facing Performance Dashboard – Benchmarking against their goals, DSPS should then institute a public facing performance dashboard that tracks the existing backlog, the average processing time, and the number of new applications and licenses approved over the previous week.
Allow for Provisional Licensure – If processing times continue to persist, allowing individuals who meet the requirements for licensure to practice temporarily on a provision license would be a way to allow them to enter the workforce without delay.
This brief follows up on Occupational Licensing in Wisconsin: A Roadmap for Reform, a joint report between WILL and the Badger Institute that outline a number of structural reforms to Wisconsin’s occupational licensing framework for the legislature to adopt, including universal license recognition, sunrise and sunset reviews, and legislation that establishes a “Right to Earn a Living.”
Backlogged: Licensing Delays Keep People from Entering the Workforce, Kyle Koenen, March 2022