SUMMARY OF: A Sunset Review of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associate 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 Psychologists and Psychological Associate Examiners (BPPA). As required by state law, the legislative committees of reference are to consider this report when considering whether to extend the termination date for BPPA. Currently under AS 08.31.010(c)(18), the board will terminate on June 30, 2005. If the legislature does not extend the termination date for the board, BPPA will have one year to conclude its administrative operations.

Report Conclusions

In addition to developing our conclusion regarding extending BPPA’s termination date, 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 various behavioral health boards.

The Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners should be extended

In our opinion, BPPA is operating in an efficient and effective manner and should continue to regulate the psychology profession. We believe the board is safeguarding the public interest by ensuring the competence and integrity of those who hold themselves out to the public as psychologists and psychological associates. BPPA serves a public purpose and has demonstrated an ability to conduct its business in a satisfactory manner.

Alaska Statute 08.03.010(c)(18) requires the Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners be terminated on June 30, 2005. If the legislature takes no action, under AS 08.03.020, BPPA 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 BPPA 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 BPPA would be a minor cost savings for each licensee.

By state law, BPPA is required to hold a minimum of three meetings each year. In recent years the board has spent relatively little on conducting meetings. This likely can be attributed to the fact that the five-person board, effectively, had only three members attending meetings on a regular basis. As a result, travel and per diem costs have been minimal.

Out of the $81,000 average annual operating cost, less than 7.5 percent, or an estimated $5,000, is related to board meeting costs. As a result we project little, if any, administrative savings for psychologists and associates in the consolidation of the boards. In a survey of licensees, more than 75 percent who responded said their biggest complaint of the licensing process was their licensing fees were too high. However, when asked if they would favor board consolidation if it resulted in lower fees, roughly the same percentage (72.7 percent) of the 128 respondents stated they would still be opposed to such action.

Given the results of the survey, combined with the lack of any significant financial savings in board costs, we conclude that consolidating the Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associates with other behavioral health boards would not increase efficiency or effectiveness in the board’s operation.

Findings and Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1

The Division of Occupational Licensing, in conjunction with the Board of Psychologist and Psychological Associate Examiners, should increase licensing fees to eliminate the board’s current and projected operating deficits.

At the end of FY 04, the board had an operating deficit of almost $75,000. Based on expenditures and revenues to date, we project that it is likely the board will be in a deficit again at the end of FY 05. The major contributing factor to the deficit is that board costs have exceeded license renewal fee revenues, without the board and the Division of Occupational Licensing putting in place the necessary licensing and other fee adjustments. Alaska Statute 08.01.065(c) requires fees be set to approximate the regulatory costs related to that occupation.

Recommendation No. 2

The Office of the Governor should take steps to expedite appointments, most importantly the public member seat, to the Board of Psychologists and Psychological Associates.