|Boards and Commissions Review Committee Submits Final Report to Legislature
Contained within last week’s Board and Commissions Review Committee final report was the committee’s findings and recommendations. The Committee was tasked with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of each board, council, commission, committee, or other similar entity of the state established by code. 256 Entities were sent questionnaires by the committee including whether the entity is statutorily required, funding sources, licensing authority, rulemaking authority, membership makeup, volume and frequency of meetings, and many other questions to get a clear overview of how each of these entities operate. Subcommittees were created to divide the entities into related categories. The subcommittees were Licensing (48 reviews), State Government (53 reviews), Agriculture and Natural Resources (35 reviews), Education, Workforce, and Labor (34 reviews), Economy and Finance (39 reviews), and Human Services (47 reviews).
The subcommittees reviewed their boards and commissions and made recommendations to the full committee on August 29th. In their review, the subcommittees found redundancies across many of these boards and commissions. On September 6th, the full committee met to hear from members of the public and stakeholders. In addition to the public meeting thousands of public comments were received by the Committee for consideration. The final report includes five findings discovered by the Committee and nine recommendations to prevent multiple layers of government from overlapping with one another. The conclusion of the report’s recommendations is to reduce the number of boards by 43%, reduce 450 Governor-appointed members, and to increase Iowans’ ability to participate on these boards by eliminating overly restrictive requirements to serve.
The Committee’s Recommendations are below:
Recommendation 1: Establish an ongoing review process for all boards and commissions, including true enforcement of sunrise and sunset provisions.
Recommendation 2: Reform the structure of advisory boards to create stronger channels for citizen input and facilitate meaningful perspective for policymakers.
Recommendation 3: Modernize Iowa’s open meetings laws to allow virtual or hybrid meetings more easily, which will expand public participation.
Recommendation 4: Remove arbitrary meeting requirements and allow boards and commissions to convene only as truly needed.
Recommendation 5: Allow the most qualified Iowans to serve on boards and commissions by repealing the gender-balance requirement.
Recommendation 6: Increase engagement on identified critical boards and commissions by compensating members for their more than “part time” work.
Recommendation 7: Clarify the budget and rulemaking roles of a part-time board or commission that oversees a full-time executive branch agency.
Recommendation 8: Implement clear, consistent, and effective licensing standards to reduce barriers to entry into the workforce while continuing to protect the health and safety of Iowans.
Recommendation 9: Consolidate, merge, eliminate, or otherwise reorganize Iowa’s boards and commissions to allow state government to better serve its citizens.
Recommendation 9 is the one that has attracted the most attention and conversation. The recommendation to reduce the number of boards and commissions by 111 sounds drastic. However, many of these boards and commissions’ responsibilities and licensing authority are either being merged with similar boards, being integrated into other existing boards and commissions to align related functions in one place and will not result in less oversight or function. In addition to these streamlining measures, the Committee found that some of these boards and commissions had met their statutory objective, hadn’t met in years, or were duplicative of other boards and commissions’ responsibilities.
The reason why the number of boards and commissions being reduced sounds so large is because Iowa has never evaluated the structure and effectiveness of its boards and commissions. This is why the first recommendation of the Committee is for the Legislature to establish an ongoing review process for all boards and commissions, including true enforcement of sunrise and sunset provisions.
This final report will give legislators clearer insight into how these boards and commissions can be addressed in order to eliminate unnecessary redundancy, provide adequate oversight of boards with licensing, rulemaking, and fee authority. I look forward to continuing to review the report of the committee to ensure that these boards and commissions are functioning as efficient and effective as possible in order to serve as Iowans to the best of their ability.