$750 Million Savings in Search of a Candidate

From the Wilder Commission
December 12, 2002
The Commission recommends that the following steps be taken to streamline and consolidate Virginia state government.
• Merge the Virginia Museum of Natural History into the Science Museum of Virginia
• Merge the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Department into the Department of Conservation and Recreation and maintain as a separate division within the department.
• Merge the Commission on Local Government into the Department of Housing and Community Development (maintaining the annexation functions and the collegial body within DHCD)
• Merge the State Milk Commission with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (with input from the Milk Commission’s regulants about the best means of accomplishing this task.)
• Consolidate the Charitable Gaming Commission, Racing Commission and Lottery into a single department under the Lottery after a determination by the Governor of the most appropriate methods and timing for the consolidation..
• Merge the Council on Human Rights with the Office of the Attorney General. (Ensure the maintenance of all functions and the continuation of public input into its operations.)
• Integrate Richard Bland College into the Community College System.
• Eliminate the Center for Innovative Technology in its existing form and reconstitute it as part of a statewide initiative to enhance Virginia’s research and development infrastructure.
• The Governor should acquire sound business assessments of the real value of a privatized ABC retail operation and develop an RFP process to realize this value and authorize legislation for the 2003 General Assembly session. Privatization should be structured so as to provide at least as equal a revenue stream to the localities and to the state activities that are presently supported by ABC earned income.
• Merge Chippokes Plantation into the Department of Conservation and Recreation
• Move the office of Consumer Services from the Department of Agriculture
• Eliminate all general fund support for the Commonwealth Competition Council
• Merge the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, the Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Department of Rehabilitative Services in a manner that will result in an enhancement and not a diminution of services. The Commission believes a consolidation plan that can result in the provision of more effective services needs to have genuine input and participation from the stakeholder groups.
• Develop a common chart of accounts that can identify with precision the total amount of dollars spent on consultants, utilize a return on investment criteria for consultant engagements and implement periodic external reviews of consultant utilization and renewal procedures.
• Eliminate the Commonwealth’s function as a power plant operator by developing an energy management process that will enable the private sector to take over the management, upkeep and upgrade of power plants.
• The Governor should develop a plan for reforming the administration and funding of local constitutional officers. This plan should examine: a) ways of eliminating duplication of efforts between constitutional officers and local officials; b) the possible regional provision of services currently provided by constitutional officers; c) the possible use of constitutional officers in collecting state receivables to offset potential reductions in general fund support; and d) possible streamlinings and consolidations that could be achieved in the agencies- The Compensation Board and the Commonwealth Attorneys Services Council- that currently administer and support constitutional officers.
(Click on the comments link below to view the rest of the Wilder Commission recommendations)

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  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon


    Procurement: ($500 Million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Develop enterprise wide approaches to purchasing and gathering information about agency spending patterns, promoting collaboration between departments and agencies.
    • Reengineer the capital outlay process to eliminate the gap between contract cost and actual final cost on transportation and construction projects.
    • Premise the procurement of prescription drugs on a preferred drug plan with a three tier system.
    • Authorize legislation to enable the use of reverse auctioning as a permanent procurement tool.
    • Remove Virginia Correctional Enterprises as a mandatory supplier for universities
    • Develop an effective Minority Supplier Program that provides better information about minority supplier availability, centralizes information about opportunities for minority suppliers and holds agencies accountable for better performance.

    Information Technology: ($100 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Negotiate statewide contracts for information technology purchases that leverage purchase volume into substantial discounts.
    • Consolidate administrative information systems projects across agencies.
    • Combine data centers to increase effectiveness and cost savings
    • Use technology to consolidate business processes such as payroll processing and accounts receivable.
    • Use web-based technology to organize customer service activities such as licensing and permitting more efficiently and effectively in a one-stop shop.

    Real Estate Operations: (60 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Develop a portfolio management system for handling real estate in the Commonwealth with clearly identified lines of responsibility.
    • Reduce the vacancy rate in office space leased by the Commonwealth to less than 5%
    • Strategically manage the lease expiration and renewal process, including the 212 leases that will expire in the next year.
    • Explore beneficial sale-leaseback opportunities for the property that the Commonwealth presently owns. (See Appendix Four: Real Estate Opportunities)
    • Maximize possible beneficial sales and public-private development of surplus property by developing better methods for designating property as “surplus” and by reexamining the opportunities for property that has already been designated as “surplus.”

    Inventory Management: ($50 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Reduce inventory balances in VDOT, DOC and ABC by 20%
    • Request that the Auditor of Public Accounts develop a standard mandating that all inventories in excess of $10,000 be classified as inventory in the state accounting systems.
    • Standardize inventory management practices across state agencies
    • Centralize distribution systems
    • Involve suppliers in inventory reduction efforts

    Receivables ($30-45 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Collection management should be standardized across agencies
    • The current time period for declaring accounts delinquent should be shortened
    • The Commonwealth should develop better collections agency strategies through the utilization of multiple agencies, through differentiating commission based on values and by providing settlement guidelines to agencies.
    • Legislation should be submitted to the 2003 General Assembly enabling the Commonwealth to use “debt sales” to raise dollars from its “uncollectible” and “unworked” receivables.

    Human Resources ($11 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Individual agency payroll systems should be folded into service bureaus.
    • The feasibility of a payroll system serving all Virginia colleges and universities should be explored.
    • The Commonwealth should minimize the use of “training incidentals” (travels, meals, lodging) by promoting the use of e-training and videoconferencing.
    • The Commonwealth should develop a comprehensive approach to training that defines appropriate roles/responsibilities for the Department of Human Resource Management Services, individual state agencies, higher education, private providers and the V-SHARE workforce development consortium.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    If I cant have Barnie Day for Senator, I want Barnie Day for Governor!!!!!!

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I haven’t studied all of these, but on their face thay seem reasonable exccept for merging human rights and the AG dept.

    But these recommendations are dated 3 years ago. How much of this has been implemented?

  4. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Depends somewhat on where you look and who you ask. Go to: http://www.administration.virginia.gov/ IssuesandUpdates/WilderCommissionUpdate.doc – Several of these recommendations have been adopted. Many were rejected or are still pending. The point is, I think, that this is the stuff the campaigns should be focusing on and debating. Instead, we’re getting idiocy and tediu.

  5. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Barnie I agree that most of these recommendations should have been implemented long ago. But it was your friend, Gov. Warner, that has got them shelved. Also, your other esteemed friend, Sen. Chichester made sure that most of these would not get implemented.

    As to what you refer to as idiocy involving the campaigns, perhaps you’re right. But something has to be done about the out of control real estate taxes and the equally out of control local governments which are spending like drunken sailors. Taxes simply cannot continue to outstrip the growth of personal incomes year-after-year. And that’s what’s been happening with real estate taxes.

    Also, don’t forget the massive tax increase that hit us last year–a totally unnecessary tax increase, which you supported, I believe. And up here in NOVA we’re also getting hit with higher tolls to pay for another boondoggle supported by your chum, Gov. Warner–the rail to Dulles scam.

    So for the last few years it’s been an orgy of non-stop tax increases. The campaigns are simply responding to the cries for tax relief. Perhaps these cries haven’t reached your part of the woods yet, but up here they are being heard very loudly.

  6. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Phil: Were are the cries of “Cut my services. Reduce my benefits. Close our parks. Lay off our policemen. Cut back our bus routes. Reduce our meals on wheels. Cut back on our ball teams. Stop buying all those books for our libraries. Lay off our teaches. Stop maintaining our streets and highways.” Where are those cries? They go hand-in-hand, you know. Perhaps you could get it started. What local government service would you discontinue?

  7. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Barnie, when did you develop this deep interest in government efficiency and reform? It wasn’t that long ago that you made this comment: “There is no such thing as government efficiency! There can’t be, almost by definition. It’s an oxymoron–by design! Same with all of the hooey you hear about running the government ‘like a business.’ Sounds good to some people, I suppose–not to me. I know it’s a crock—”

    Your comment to Phil on local government services also contradicts your new-found interest in efficiency. You present it only as a choice between cut or leave as is, just like the old “Washington Monument” response that prevents reasonable budget cuts on the Federal level.

    That said, residents of Fairfax County do demand enhanced services that are unheard of in other parts of the state. They have been demanding these high priced services for over 30 years. AS the county has grown, so has the demand for services.

    When I was much younger, I worked for Fairfax County as a laborer for the storm sewer division. A lot of my fellow workers and supervisors lived in rural WVA and commuted every day.

    During a heavy rainstorm one day, our crew was called to a toney neighborhood to address “ponding” in yards. A grizzled WVA truck driver surveyed the scene and shook his head. “These folks don’t shit but they want the county to wipe their ass.”

  8. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Will: My interests do ebb and flow. I do think government will always be inefficient. It cannot be run like a private sector business. I do think, though, that the recommendations of the Wilder Commission still warrant debate and that they make far better substance for a statewide campaign than what we’re getting. On the matter of tax reform, that is not a recent interest. See my column ‘Worthy of a Legacy’ of some time ago–couple years.

  9. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Through the ebb and flow of your interests, at least you have the constant of always finding fault with Republicans.

    Show us you’re more than just a reflexive Democratic shill. Write an open letter to Tim Kaine and tell him to get behind the Wilder Commission recommendations. You’ve written plenty of “open letter” columns, right?

    Lord knows Kilgore has gotten plenty of advice and criticism from members of this blog, including those one would expect to be sympathetic to his candidacy and issues. Shouldn’t Kaine get a little taste of the same thing, being as there’s a “big tent?”

  10. Virginia Centrist Avatar
    Virginia Centrist

    Hmmm. Many of those recommendations involve firing state employees.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Virginia Centrist, do you know how many VA state employees are currently eligible for retirement? Last I heard it was about 44%. There are ways to reduce the size of government without “firing” state employees, but it requires commitment from leaders to rethink and restructure operations. Rather than hiring new employees every time someone retires or leaves, the agency heads should be examining ways to reorganize their departments within. By simply not filling every position when someone retires, we could significantly reduce the state payroll. Also, we honestly need to look at the number of state employees we currently have in Virginia. The numbers are shocking, and most agency heads, when honestly asked, will tell you that they could do the job with far fewer employees than are currently within their agency. For example, in the past year and a half, VDOT has reduced its payroll by about 1000 employees– and NO ONE has said a thing. You complained elsewhere about employee benefits– well if we streamline the number of state employees, the state would
    probably be able to provide better benefits to the remaining employees, as well as have the funds necessary to fulfill the state’s core commitments. That benefits us all, don’t you think?

  12. Virginia Centrist Avatar
    Virginia Centrist


    44% eh? Sounds great! In fact, too great to be real.

    I just emailed someone over at Virginia Social Services and they (1) laughed at me for suggesting they were surrounded by old geezers and (2) sent me a spreadsheet that shows that 10.4% of the current employees at VSS will be eligible for retirement in 5 years!

    Perhaps you’re talking about early retirement, and you’re insinuating that we should just force people out early in order to kill most of their pension and health benefits. That’s very George Allen-esque of you.

    It seems that everyone has their own cost-cutting urban legend. Next I’m going to hear about how the Department of Retirement spent $15 million on two toilets last year.

    The truth is that experienced workers are our most valuable and efficient workers. They have institutional memories that can’t be replaced. The state should shudder at the idea of sending them all off to oblivion.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    I realize the fact that the numbers will vary from one department to another, and you happened to contact one with a much lower figure than the average. In fact many are eligible for partial retirement, I never meant to suggest otherwise, but my figure comes from some very high ranking people in the state human resources department, who I would trust would have a better understanding of the overall picture regarding all state employees than one single agency.

    Certainly institutional knowledge is key, and spme departments rely on people to people based service, but the question is can we provide for our state employees better of just the same old status quo. If we want to provide the best possible services to Virginians, while at the same time providing the best possible treatment to our state employees, we must examine our options and think outside the box.

    Departments with higher levels of those eligible for retirment should be looked at in the priority of where we can save/invest the most with minimal impact on those effected. Gutting departments is not the intent, nor would it be effective. The goal should be to operate more like a business, with gradual transformation in order to deliver the best possible results for the associated costs.

  14. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    In a previous comment, I suggested a characterization of my colleague Barnie Day that was unfair and totally unjustified. I apologize for the words I used because the meaning they conveyed was not what I intended.

    I disagree with Barnie on occasion, but there’s no questioning his independent thinking. I was out of line to suggest otherwise.

  15. DABurgess Avatar

    “…interests do ebb and flow,” sounds like the writers polite way of saying he’s a “flip-flopper.”

    I have made a point with a couple “spend money loosely” liberal bloggers, mainly The Virginia Progressive and Commonwealth Commonsense …don’t ask me for one bloody nickel till you’ve turn every stone in eliminating government waste, fraud and abuse. $750 million proves there’s still a lot of waste, fraud and abuse.

    I cannot understand why bloggers like The Virginia Progressive and Commonwealth Commonsense aren’t all over this report demanding action. Instead they beat up on people like me. I work damn hard for my money and they think it’s wrong that I fight to keep as much as possible in my wallet for my family.

    They would rather try to force me to pay more in taxes just because I make more than the medium income. It’s easier to get the “masses” worked up against people like me than do the right thing and fight waste, fraud and abuse.

    What’s commonsense about that?

  16. Virginia Centrist Avatar
    Virginia Centrist

    We’re up to 15 comments, so I’m going to change the subject to semantics:

    WASTE FRAUD AND ABUSE? What kind of terms are those to use? If you look at the recommendations, none of them approach “fraud” or even “abuse”.

    Also – as far as I know, the IT recommendations have been adopted with the creation of VITA. Here they are again:

    Information Technology: ($100 million)
    Major Recommendations:
    • Negotiate statewide contracts for information technology purchases that leverage purchase volume into substantial discounts.
    • Consolidate administrative information systems projects across agencies.
    • Combine data centers to increase effectiveness and cost savings
    • Use technology to consolidate business processes such as payroll processing and accounts receivable.
    • Use web-based technology to organize customer service activities such as licensing and permitting more efficiently and effectively in a one-stop shop.

    I know that the state saved $14 million last year with their telecom contract – that’s just one example.

    Is there any way to find out which of these recommendations were adopted? Or are we all just going to assume that they weren’t.

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