Fourth Sunset Review of County Government Completed
The Allegheny County Home Rule Charter includes among its taxpayer protections a sunset review to determine if the functions performed by the County are to continue, be abolished, or reorganized. The County Manager’s office evaluates “the need for each County department, agency and function…through a four year staggered sunset review process”.
Prior sunset reviews were completed in 2003, 2010, and 2014. There was a seven year gap between the first and second reviews, a violation of the language of the Charter and the Administrative Code. Beginning in 2015 the Manager’s office implemented a schedule in which one quarter of the departments and related agencies are reviewed and recommendations published each year. Next year the process begins again with the departments and functions that were last examined in 2015.
The departments covered in the 2018 portion of the review included Budget and Finance, Court Records, Human Resources, Law, and Public Defender. The review pointed out that there has never been a formal evaluation to see if a private law firm could handle the functions of the Law Department, but in the 1990s part of the labor negotiation process was outsourced but then brought back in house. It also noted that in many states the function performed by the Public Defender is handled by the state rather than county governments.
Overall, those departments, along with other functions related to personnel and retirement, were recommended to continue. The recommendations go to County Council, which can act to accept or modify them. The last change to come out of a sunset review was to merge the Department of Real Estate into the Department of Administrative Services.