A Spending Boost We Don’t Need

Here are a couple of items in the Governor’s proposed budget that the Commonwealth could do without.  Both are in the Office of the Governor, each with a budget request of $599,192 for each year. That is a total of $2.4 million for the biennium. The description of the purpose of each budget amendment comes from the Budget Document, prepared by the Department of Planning and Budget.

Office of Chief Diversity Officer. “This office promotes inclusive practices across Virginia state government; implements a strategic plan to address systemic inequities in state government practices; and facilitates ways to turn feedback from state employees, external stakeholders, and community leaders into concrete equity policy.”

From my Soapbox: This is a classic bureaucratic statement that says nothing.  This sounds like a make-work position.  To top it off, the office is to have three employee positions: the director and two others.

Office of Chief Workforce Advisor. “This office connects Virginians to the skills, training, and opportunities they need to thrive in the 21st century economy. The office partners with government offices and the labor and business communities to identify and fill vacant jobs in high demand sectors.”

From my Soapbox: I thought the state already had someone whose duties fit this description. The title of that person is Commissioner, Virginia Employment Commission. However, it seems that the Governor’s office already includes a Chief Workforce Advisor, Megan Healy, who is shown as a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. If I were a member of one of the money committees or staff to one of them, I would be asking the following questions: Why does the state need two senior officials to connect employers with potential employees? Since there is already a Chief Workforce Advisor, who has been on the job for awhile, why does she need an additional $600,000 annually? What will that $1.2 million over the biennium buy? Will her salary come out of that amount? If so, what does the Governor plan to do with the money in his budget that is being used to pay her salary now?

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11 responses to “A Spending Boost We Don’t Need

  1. I agree and suspect there are more of these – created in prior administrations… I’d like to see an organizational chart to see which they fit in to the food chain…….

    • You can’t be the “Chief” of anything without a staff of Indians to do your bidding…:) But no, this is not the same job as is done by the head of VEC. One of my friends from the shipyard did the job for Bob McDonnell after he retired from the company, and the idea is to try to coordinate all the disparate training and recruitment efforts along those lines in various secretariats. The fact that the job exists tells you how uncoordinated the state is….and now that a bureaucracy is forming, that means the effort to streamline has not gone all that well.

      • VEC could perform the function of this position. That is my point. There already exists an agency that has the following mission:
        “The Virginia Employment Commission provides workforce services to workers and businesses, including job placement, temporary income support, labor market information, and career transition services.”

        But, instead of giving an existing agency the task of “coordinating” all the various training and recruiting activities, it plays much better politically to establish a high-profile position in the Governor’s Cabinet, which will not be able to accomplish much substantially. Look at the description of the Office of the Chief Workforce Advisor in the original post. It is not that different from the mission statement of VEC.

  2. $600K is not chump change but I don’t know how many “Indians” it will buy for two chiefs!

    Trying to knock down silos and get those in them to coordinate is not easy, usually bloody… seldom wonderful…

    A few years back DOD tried to standardize desktops and laptops – so that IT could be properly trained for the configurations across agencies. You would have thought that folks first born were being demanded!

    Everyone wanted “their” own computer with their favorite software installed – even if it was incompatible with other agencies…

    and don’t laugh – the number one problem with doctors being able to share your medical record with each other is because each has their own medical record system and it’s incompatible with the other…. so doctors pay staff to move fax copies back and forth.

  3. I just realized that the state already has a Chief Diversity Officer who is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. These two budget amendments are another example of a common tactic of agencies, including the Governor, it seems. Initiate an action, or establish a new position, with some budget surplus that exists. It then becomes a fait accompli. The next step is to ask for funding for the action or position in the next budget round.

    • I’d think, perhaps foolishly, that ANY new position would have recurring costs and thus needed an FIS and that the fiscal conservatives would work it over a little.

      The way that you and Steve talk sometimes , in your “asides” leads me to believe that all is not innocent and wonderful there, sometimes and that no administration, GOP or Dem is without sin.

      I remember how shocked I was to hear of how McDonnell, his wife and his kids behaved … more like white trash than white privilege…

      bit my tongue…

      • A FIS is used only for proposed legislation. These positions are in the budget; no other legislation will be needed. The explanation of new positions and new appropriations is included in the budget document, which is available on the DPB website.

  4. I totally agree with you, Dick, neither of these positions is needed. Pure symbolism and a waste of money. Thanks for pointing this out.

    • Would we say the same with respect to corporations and non-profits?

      • They are not using public money, so it’s not really my business how they spend their money. But, if I were an employee or stockholder of the corporation or involved in the non-profit, I would make the same objections.

        • yes – but many corporations are run by profit-oriented CEOs who, in turn are held accountable by boards and stockholders yet we do see these titles in businesses also – and that’s an expense added on to products and services – against competitors who may forgo such costs to keep their prices lower.

          All I am saying is that it’s not an uncommon expenditure across the board – it’s not just a unique govt “make-work” thing – more of a eyes of the beholder thing.

          In general, I agree that govt is able to add these positions with less oversight and accountability – AND if Northam is way out over his skis compared to prior administrations then whack him good. If not, then don’t make it about Dems alone.. it’s an institutional thing for both parties.

          moral of the story – if it’s truly a non-partisan criticism – do it with vigor – if it’s a poke from someone on the other side masquerading as criticism – not so much. Trust but verify.

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