SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Social Work Examiners, October 27, 2004.

Purpose of the Report

In accordance with Title 24 and Title 44 of the Alaska Statutes, we have reviewed the activities of the Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report when considering whether to extend the termination date for BSWE. Currently under AS 08.31.010(c)(6), the board will terminate on June 30, 2005. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BSWE will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In addition to developing our conclusion regarding extending the termination date for the Board of Social Work Examiners, we also analyzed the operating costs of the board. Such analysis was done to evaluate possible cost savings that might be generated by consolidation of behavioral health boards along the lines suggested in the 2002 letter of intent. Further discussion of our conclusions follows.

The termination date of the Board of Social Work Examiners should be extended

In our opinion, the termination date for the Board of Social Work Examiners should be extended. The board is operating in an efficient and effective manner and should continue to regulate clinical, master, and baccalaureate social workers. BSWE is serving the public interest by promoting the competence and integrity of those who provide services to the public as licensed social workers.

BSWE has demonstrated a capability of conducting its business in a satisfactory manner. The board continues to propose changes to regulations to improve the effectiveness of the board and ensure that social workers are licensed in the State of Alaska.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(6) requires BSWE be terminated on June 30, 2005. If not extended by the legislature, under AS 08.03.020, the board will have a one-year period to administratively conclude its affairs. We recommend the legislature extend the board’s termination date to June 30, 2010.

Board consolidation provides minimal savings over current BSWE costs

We analyzed various aspects of consolidating all licensing boards related to behavioral health. From the perspective of efficiency and effectiveness, the most tangible benefit of consolidation for BSWE would be a minor cost savings for each licensee.

Due to the way costs are accumulated and distributed to various boards, direct costs with the most variability, and thus most likely to be affected by possible consolidation, are those associated with board meetings. Rather than separate boards meeting three to four times a year, consolidation would result in one board, albeit likely a larger one, holding the same number of meetings possibly lasting longer than one day.

In recent years, BSWE has spent relatively little on conducting meetings. This likely can be attributed to all of the current, and much of the historical, membership of the board being from the Anchorage bowl. Since most of the meetings have been held in the Anchorage area, travel and per diem costs have been minimal. Of the $47,000 average annual operating costs for BSWE, we estimate less than $3,000 are related to board meeting costs.

We project little, if any, administrative savings for licensed social workers if the board was consolidated with other behavioral health boards. Accordingly, we conclude that for Social Work Examiners, board consolidation is unlikely to result in any significant savings that would reduce board operating costs and, by extension, licensing fees.