ICYMI: Shapiro Administration is Moving at the Speed of Business, Reducing DEP Permit Backlog by 41 Percent

To date, under the PAyback program, DEP has not had to refund a single application fee – meaning permits are getting out the door in a timely manner.


Thanks to Governor Shapiro’s leadership, Commonwealth agencies like DEP are working to move at the speed of business.

Harrisburg, PA –The Shapiro Administration’s efforts to enhance and improve permitting are showing early success as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) improves online permitting, online payment, and delivers on-time permit decisions.

Governor Shapiro has made it clear – Pennsylvania is open for business and the Commonwealth should help businesses succeed, not get in the way. Over the last year, Commonwealth agencies have streamlined their permitting processes and enhanced their customer experience to demonstrate that Pennsylvania is open for business. DEP is changing how the Commonwealth does business, reducing its backlog and improving how it interacts with permit-seekers, while continuing to vigilantly protect our environment.

DEP has successfully implemented the PAyback program, the Shapiro Administration’s online money-back guarantee system and begun making significant progress in reducing backlogs and speeding up processing timelines. DEP has hired 15 new staff members dedicated to processing permits – thanks to investments from the 2023-24 budget signed into law by Governor Shapiro – and has utilized some staff working overtime when needed to address the backlog. Since hiring the additional staff members and cataloging and reviewing DEP’s nearly 800 available types of permits, DEP has reduced the backlog of permits by nearly 900 individual permits – or 41 percent – as of March 1, 2024.

DEP has also made it easier for businesses to upload documents and payments for permit applications electronically. Applicants can now use DEP’s Public Upload, a new service which allows individuals, small businesses, and corporations to electronically upload documents and payments. DEP’s Public Upload system was implemented in December 2023, and since then, more than 7,100 documents have been submitted, collecting more than $600,000 in revenue. Electronic submissions are the most efficient way to submit documents, providing for the fastest review timeframes for authorization, and enhanced security.

Additional initiatives underway at DEP as part of permit modernization include:

  • Finalizing a pilot program to evaluate new procedures that will improve the quality of submissions and review efficiency of Chapter 102 Individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit applications. This pilot program is expected to reduce the review timeframe by 73 business days and improve the quality of applications received.
  • Creating a quarterly Agriculture Permitting Stakeholder Roundtable to engage farmers, conservation district managers, owners, operators, producers, and consultants to collect feedback on permitting processes.
  • Formalizing a pre-application meeting process to better-inform potential applicants of the permitting process and the specific permits they need. The Permit Application Consultation Tool (PACT) is available online.
  • Undergoing User Experience (UX) research with key stakeholders that will provide useful insights into what they need and value during the application process. The goal of the customer experience initiative is to understand and improve the applicant’s experience and reduce bottlenecks in review.

Under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, Pennsylvania is successfully competing with other states and countries to retain business and attract business to Pennsylvania. In addition to improving permitting, licensing, and certification processes, since January 2023, Governor Shapiro has announced more than $1.2 billion in new private sector investment in Pennsylvania as a direct result of his Administration’s work.

Earlier this year, Governor Shapiro launched the Commonwealth’s first Economic Development Strategy in nearly two decades.

The Governor’s 2024-25 budget calls for significant investments directly tied back to this ten-year strategy including: $500 million in PA SITES funding to bring more commercial and industrial sites to Pennsylvania; $25 million for the Main Street Matters program to support small businesses and commercial corridors that are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s communities; $20 million to support large-scale innovation and leverage Pennsylvania’s best-in-class research and development assets; and $3.5 million to create and launch the Pennsylvania Regional Economic Competitiveness Challenge to incentivize regional growth.

For more information on how the Governor’s proposed budget will create opportunity for all Pennsylvanians, visit shapirobudget.pa.gov.

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