Eric Moeller, Chief Transformation Officer

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Eric Moeller, Governor Youngkin’s Chief Transformation Officer, has his work cut out for him. In Executive Order No. 5, the Governor said that the chief responsiblities of the position would be to “to help build a culture of transparency, accountability, and constructive challenge across our government.”

As for building a “culture of transparency and accountability,” Mr. Moeller should start with the Department of Education and Department of Health. The Virginia Mercury reports that officials in several agencies have turned down numerous FOIA requests it has submitted. DOE and VDH seemed to be erecting the most obstacles.

To be fair, agencies in previous administrations have also freely invoked FOIA exemptions, justifiably or not, in response to requests for information or documents. Contributors to this blog have fought with the University of Virginia. I have had skirmishes with the Dept. of Corrections. On the other hand, some agencies have been very cooperative. James Sherlock has complimented VDH staff on their help and I have had good responses from VCCS, among others.

In summary, agencies invoking the “governor’s working papers and correspondence” exemption is not new; it has been done under governors in the past. But Governor Youngkin promised us things would be different under him.  So, go to it, Eric — start transforming that culture into one of transparency and accountability. The Monroe Building, home of the Dept. of Education and the Madison Building, home of the Dept. of Health, as well as the Patrick Henry Building, home of the Office of the Governor, would be good places to start.

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4 responses to “Transformation Has a Long Way to Go”

  1. I totally agree. If Youngkin wants to transform state government, the first place to start is to make it more transparent — even if that means releasing information that some agency heads would rather not see the light of day.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Yet a list of the statutory exemptions now in the Code would fill this comment string down to China. All approved by the GA, which adds to them all the time. Pretty easy to find an excuse to say no or delay. I don’t know the specifics and they might be dodging. What the media really wants are the notes from that ill-considered “hot line,” a wonderful example of be bloody careful what you ask for.

      As I’ve noted before, I looked at four years of those FOIAs on behalf of the AG’s office, answering many of the requests myself. Much of it was total BS. The best exemption was the one that allowed me to ignore out-of-state requests, or I would have needed a full-time staff of 3 for the task. Those often showed up as form letters sent to all 50 AGs.

  2. vicnicholls Avatar

    Forget the Gov get the General Assembly to hand over stuff. I’ve been stalled as much with R’s as D’s. They’ll answer questions, but a FOIA? Easier said than done.

  3. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “Mr. Moeller should start with the Department of Education and Department of Health.”

    Actually, he should start with his own “divisive teaching in schools” tipline…

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