For Immediate Release - December 01, 2004

Romney Praises Turnaround At Professional Licensing Agency

Reduction in disciplinary case backlog achieved with focus on efficiency

A dramatic turnaround in the reduction of disciplinary case backlogs at the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) was highlighted today by Governor Mitt Romney as an example of what a more efficient state government can deliver for the people of Massachusetts.

When Romney took office, the DPL faced serious operational deficiencies that contributed to extensive complaint and disciplinary backlogs. The average age of open disciplinary cases was well over two years at a time when newly filed complaints were rising annually.

Today, the average length of time it takes for the DPL to resolve a case has declined by almost 70 percent, falling from 840 to 262 days. The number of case resolutions has increased from 1440 in Fiscal Year 2002 to 2306 in Fiscal Year 2004, substantially reducing the pre-existing case backlog. The DPL is also handling more work, with the number of new cases filed increasing 90 percent in the last two years, from 1348 in Fiscal Year 2002 to 2567 in Fiscal Year 2004.

Disciplinary actions and inspections have also increased, as shown in the table below.

Category

FY 2002

FY 2003

FY 2004

New Cases Received

1348

1480

2567

Cases Resolved

1440

2094

2306

Disciplinary Actions

387

663

829

Inspections Performed

3937

4511

6411

Romney noted that millions of Massachusetts citizens depend on the services of approximately 330,000 licensed professionals for everything from a haircut or manicure to the design and construction of their homes, and that a more smoothly functioning licensing division benefits everyone.

"What this agency has accomplished is an example of what building a more efficient government is all about," said Romney.

Anne L. Collins, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure, credited the establishment of "new priorities and performance goals across all of our licensing boards" for the improvement. "We also had to re-establish morale because without teamwork we wouldn't get far," Collins said.

"These solid results should strengthen consumer confidence in the oversight of licensed professionals," said Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom. "The boards still urgently need greater enforcement authority and I am encouraged that legislation addressing this is being considered by the Legislature."

The bill - House Bill 5074 - would give greater consumer protection powers to the boards by authorizing uniform fining authority, standards for discipline and the ability to prosecute unlicensed professional practice. It would also grant summary license suspension powers in order to take emergency action when an imminent danger to the public exists.

The Division of Professional Licensure is charged with protecting the public by enforcing standards of conduct for professionals licensed by 29 independent boards. These boards license a broad range of professionals including plumbers, electricians, certified public accountants, real estate brokers, funeral directors, chiropractors, optometrists, cosmetologists, engineers, architects and veterinarians, among others.