Leaders at the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said Wednesday that they’ve taken positive steps to improve the state’s ability to process healthcare licenses.

Agency Secretary Mario Treto, Jr. told members of the House’s Health Care Licenses Committee that in addition to streamlining the paper application process, they’ve implemented other improvements and more efficiencies.

That includes creating new P.O. boxes so applications are directed to the appropriate processors, hiring additional staff to review applications, emailing deficiency notices to online applicants so they can quickly provide additional materials for review and making other changes to the online portal.

These steps and others have created “strong, tangible results,” said Camile Lindsay, the acting director of the agency’s division of professional regulation. She said the agency issued over 8,800 licenses in April, compared to 8,400 in March and 8,000 in February.

“The numbers are clear,” Lindsay said. “More people want to work in Illinois, and IDFPR is committed to answering the call to not only issue those licenses, but to issue those licenses quickly.”

Lawmakers also discussed progress on a law signed last December that, in part, tasks the department to pursue an expedited and competitive bid procurement process to update its software. The law gave the department three months to secure the contract to reform its licensing system and another three months to implement the changes.

Committee Chair Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Deerfield, said that while the department missed the procurement deadline, a “variety of other state agencies are working very, very, very hard” to catch up on the issue and improve the system.

Rep. Bill Hauter, R-Morton, said lawmakers deserve answers for why the agency missed the deadline. He said the department “self-imposed” the deadline, and he didn’t understand why they couldn’t meet it.

Treto said he wants to respect the procurement process and not speak on ongoing negotiations. He hopes to have an announcement soon.

“I understand your frustration, I see you, I hear you,” Treto told the committee. “I also hope that you can understand and extend grace to the department.”

Morgan said Hauter’s comments reflect the “majority” of the committee’s frustrations, as the delay prevents lawmakers from taking a deep dive into the issue and knowing what more they can do to help.

Morgan added that the committee will pressure the department to follow through on its goal to improve licensing.

“I would describe where we are at today as seeing meaningful improvement, but much more improvement to go,” he said.