DES MOINES – A Boards & Commissions Review Committee sent Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds a recommendation to slash the opportunity for citizens to engage directly in state policymaking by eliminating dozens of boards and committees, and Reynolds is ready to submit a bill to make it happen.
Boards and commissions offer citizens the opportunity to engage directly in state policymaking as a part of Iowa’s traditional three branches of government. And boards are popular: the number of state boards and commissions has expanded from several dozen to several hundred since our founding. But despite countless reexaminations of traditional state government in that time, Iowa has never evaluated the structure and effectiveness of its boards and commissions.
Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds led the charge to align state government for the first time in nearly forty years. Senate File 514 reduced the number of cabinet-level departments in the executive branch, leveraged shared services, improved efficiencies, and decreased costs. Most importantly, the Governor’s alignment elevated experience and outcomes for all Iowans that interact with the executive branch.
The State is overdue to evaluate its boards and commissions. As was raised by the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2021, the best way to ensure that multiple layers of government do not overlap with one another or impede the experience and outcomes of Iowans is to conduct one single, comprehensive review of Iowa’s boards and commissions.1 Iowans don’t care whether an important decision, an increased fee, or a burdensome regulation was the responsibility of a state department or a state board—the government took that action. And whenever government acts on behalf of its citizens, it has a duty to ensure it is delivering services in a fair and consistent manner.
This Committee was formed to study and make recommendations on the structure of 256 boards, councils, commissions, committees, and panels that span all of state government. The charge was simple: are the goals and objectives of Iowa’s boards and commissions being met? And if not, should those boards be eliminated, consolidated, or reorganized?2
During its review, the Committee held four public meetings, heard testimony from citizens, stakeholders, and board members, and received written comments from thousands of Iowans. The Committee thanks each of those individuals for participating in this review process, along with participating state agencies, officials, and public employees.
1 Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Final Report 89 (Feb. 2021), available athttps://governor.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/GovAdvisoryBoard_Report_112020_F.pdf (on file with Committee).
2 The Committee’s full charge, established in 2023 Iowa Acts ch. 19, § 2803, is included as Appendix A. The list of 256 boards and commissions is included as Appendix B. Notable boards and commissions outside the scope of the Committee’s review—either because the entity exists only in federal law, exists outside of the Iowa Code, or has no true nexus to state government—are included as Appendix C.
A Review of Iowa’s Boards & Commissions: Final Report
This Report contains bold solutions. This Committee believes Iowa has too many boards and commissions, as do most Iowans.3 The challenge, of course, is deciding which boards provide value to Iowans, which can be improved, and which are no longer necessary. While most can agree there are too many boards, no one will agree on the best solution. For its part, the Committee’s recommendations will result in:
- ➢ 111 fewer boards and commissions, a reduction of approximately 43%.
- ➢ At least 450 fewer Governor-appointed members.
- ➢ Increased engagement on boards and commissions and an expansion of the number of Iowans eligible to serve on boards.
- ➢ Implementation of clear, consistent, and effective licensing standards that will reduce barriers to entry into the workforce while continuing to protect the health and safety of Iowans.
Consistent with its legislative charge, the Committee hereby submits this Report to the Governor and General Assembly.
Gov. Kim Reynolds released the following statement in response to the Boards and Commissions Review Committee submitting their final recommendation:
“I appreciate the committee’s in-depth analysis and examination of Iowa’s Boards and Commissions, along with the thousands of Iowans who submitted feedback to the committee. The final report gives insight into how to ensure the most effective and efficient way to preserve Iowans’ engagement in their government. This comprehensive review of Iowa’s 256 boards and commissions was recommended by the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and represents the first of its kind. I look forward to submitting a bill to the legislature for consideration next year.”
The Boards and Commissions Review Committee, created in the Governor’s alignment bill, was responsible for reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of all boards, commissions, and other similar entities created in Iowa law. Based on the Committee’s review, its members submitted its final recommendation, which can be found online here. The Committee was required to submit the final report containing its final findings and recommendations to the governor and the general assembly no later than September 30, 2023.