Governor Shapiro Launches First-in-the-Nation Online Money-Back Guarantee System to Bring Increased Accountability & Transparency to Commonwealth Permitting, Licensing, and Certification Processes delivers on the Governor’s promise to establish standard response times and create a money-back guarantee system for Pennsylvania workers and businesses, increasing certainty for Pennsylvanians and accountability for Commonwealth agencies.


The Shapiro Administration has set standard processing timelines for permits, licenses, and certifications – so Pennsylvania workers and businesses can plan ahead and know with certainty how long it will take to process their application, or they’ll get their money back. 

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Josh Shapiro, the Commonwealth Office of Digital Experience (CODE PA), and the Office of Transformation and Opportunity (OTO) launched, a new online money-back guarantee system that allows residents, businesses, charities, and schools to check their eligibility for a refund of their permit, license, or certification application fee and request a refund if they believe they are eligible. Using PAyback, Pennsylvania workers and businesses can also see the standard processing time for each application, increasing certainty for Pennsylvanians doing business with the Commonwealth, and request a refund if their application is not processed within that timeframe.

The Shapiro Administration has already made significant progress by improving or eliminating the long wait times to receive hundreds of permits, licenses, and certifications. In his first month in office, Governor Shapiro signed Executive Order 2023-07 directing all state agencies to standardize timeframes for how they issue permits, licenses, and certifications, and directed his Administration to create this money-back guarantee tool to request refunds when the Commonwealth does not meet those timeframes.

Within 90 days of signing that Executive Order, every Commonwealth agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction catalogued all 2,400 total permits, licenses and certifications issued for the first time ever. The OTO and the Office of General Counsel immediately mobilized to review, analyze, and establish efficient application processing times for allpermits, licenses, and certifications based on agency recommendations. In coordination with the OTO, the CODE PA team designed and created PAyback to modernize the Commonwealth’s application platforms and services to better serve Pennsylvanians and to publish the recommended application processing times.

“When I took office in January, I made a promise to the good people of Pennsylvania that my Administration would work at the speed of business and respond in a timely manner. Today, with the launch of PAyback, we are delivering on that promise, increasing transparency and accountability in the application process and giving Pennsylvanians the certainty they need to be successful,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “My Administration has made significant progress already to improve our processing timelines – eliminating backlogs and reducing the time it takes to do business with the Commonwealth. Now, thanks to the work of our teams at the Office of Transformation and Opportunity, the Office of General Counsel, the Office of Administration, and CODE PA, Pennsylvanians will have certainty – they will know how long it will take for agencies to respond, and if an agency doesn’t live up to that promise, they will get their money back.”

Pennsylvania workers and businesses will now be able to use the PAyback application to select the specific permit, license, or certification to determine if their application is eligible for a refund. Once a resident or business completes their refund application on PAyback, the application will go directly to the Commonwealth agency issuing the permit, license, or certification. If an application is approved, Pennsylvanians will be notified within three business days and receive their refund via check within 45 days.

Approximately 70% of Commonwealth-issued permits, licenses, and certifications are eligible for a refund through PAyback. Certain permits, licenses, and certifications that don’t charge application fees or are set by legislation will not be eligible for a refund. PAyback will only apply for completed applications starting today, November 1, 2023. Pennsylvanians cannot retroactively apply for a refund using PAyback.

In addition to supporting Pennsylvanians who want to start new businesses or renew their existing permits, licenses, and certifications, PAyback will make it easier for companies who are looking to establish operations and expand in Pennsylvania.

“Making government more efficient and effective for the people of Pennsylvania means that our online and digital services must work faster and be easy to access and navigate,” said CODE PA Executive Director Bry Pardoe. “CODE PA is working to transform how Pennsylvanians interact with the Commonwealth online – and the launch of PAyback today is the latest step in the Shapiro Administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability in delivering services that will make Pennsylvanians’ lives better.”

“Under Governor Shapiro’s leadership, we are creating transformational change in Pennsylvania to better support our workers and businesses. This Administration is competitive as hell – and our ultimate goal remains to issue zero refunds because we are continuing to deliver services on time, and this system will help keep us accountable,” said Chief Transformation Officer Ben Kirshner. “Today’s launch of PAyback builds on the progress we’ve made over the last ten months and is our latest step to provide Pennsylvanians with the certainty and predictability they need to start their businesses or careers and create long-term economic success.”

In addition to creating PAyback, the Shapiro Administration has been working to help businesses and workers from across Pennsylvania receive faster and more efficient services from the Commonwealth and has already made real progress. Since January, the Shapiro Administration has eliminated the backlog of Medicaid provider applications, eliminated the birth certificate amendment backlog, reduced the time it takes to process new in-state teacher certifications, reduced the average phone wait time for Unemployment Compensation assistance, reduced the average processing times for business and corporate filings from eight weeks to just 3 days, and reduced the time it takes to certify a small business from 15 days to 10 days.

Moving forward, the Shapiro Administration will continue its work to improve the permitting, licensing, and certification processes by filling key vacancies, updating the Commonwealth’s IT and technological assets, improving the application processes, and more.

To check your eligibility for a refund of permits, licenses, or certification application fees, visit

For more information on the Shapiro Administration’s efforts to cut red tape and make government more effective and efficient, visit


Media Contacts

Governor's Press Office

Governor's Office Media