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Sunset Review Standards

Criteria in the Sunset Act

Sunset staff uses specific criteria set by the Legislature to evaluate each of the programs and functions of a state agency or other entity placed under Sunset review.  In 2013, the Legislature added additional criteria specific to occupational licensing agencies.  The Sunset Review Questions summarizes these criteria, located in §325.011 and §325.0115 of the Government Code.

Across–the–Board Provisions

Across–the–Board (ATB) recommendations are statutory administrative policies adopted by the Sunset Commission as standards for state agencies, reflecting criteria in the Sunset Act designed to ensure open, responsive, and effective government.  Routinely applying these ATB recommendations to agencies reflects an effort by the Legislature to prevent problems from occurring, instead of reacting to problems after the fact.  The ATB summary provides a brief explanation of each provision.

Model Standards for Licensing and Regulatory Agencies

The Licensing and Regulatory Model is a collection of evolving standards based on past Sunset experience reviewing licensing agencies and programs, as well as other published authorities.  The compilation of these standard practices provides a model for evaluating licensing and regulatory programs, promoting efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, and accountability to protect the public.  The Sunset Commission uses these standards to guide reviews of agency structure, oversight, and operations.

The model examines every aspect of a licensing agency or program from the need for the agency to how licensing and enforcement should work. For example, the model contains a standard relating to agency licensing that supports minimum experience requirements to ensure competency, but not unnecessarily limit entry to a profession. As another example, in the area of enforcement, the model indicates that an agency should have clear procedures, rules, and statutory authority for conducting inspections to ensure consistent treatment of licensees and timely compliance. Sunset initially applied the model to occupational licensing programs, but has since adapted its use and applied standards to other types of regulatory programs, such as utility oversight by the Public Utility Commission.

Before recommending changes to an agency’s statute based on these standards, the Sunset Commission considers the specific circumstances of the agency and the historical context of the issues. Common benefits of applying licensing model standards include agency efficiency, administrative flexibility, fairer processes for the licensee, and additional protections for consumers.  View a full description of Sunset’s Licensing and Regulatory model.