Wonks in Ecstacy

Public policy wonks and gurus in Virginia now have an incredible new toy to play with — the Virginia Performs website. Thank you, Gov. Kaine, for best Christmas present ever! (Technically, yesterday was the ninth day of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”)

Virginia Performs, developed in partnership with the Council on Virginia’s Future, benchmarks Virginia against other states for about 50 crucial economic, social and government indicators. Most of the statistics were available to anyone who knew where to dig them up, but the website brings them together in one convenient place.

Best of all, the website provides a super-cool map-making capability that displays in a glance how the indicators vary by county or region. For example, to pick an indicator totally at random, here is a map showing where the incidence of the maltreatment of children is the highest (the number of cases per 1,000 children):

Pale green: 5.36 – 9.82 cases
Pale blue: 9.82 – 14.65
Blue: 14.65 – 21.66

I would offer one modest suggestion. The benchmarking tables compare Virginia to neighboring states and a single “best performing” state. It would be really helpful if the web designers could go the extra mile and provide downloadable Excel spreadsheets with data for all states. Surely, they’ve gathered all the data and loaded it onto a spreadsheet already. All they need to do is make the spreadsheet downloadable.

Otherwise the website is extremely well done. Kudos to those who dreamed up the project and to those who executed it.

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One response to “Wonks in Ecstacy”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Excellent website – and an equally excellent reference to a land-use/transportation study done for Virginia entitled


    a very worthwhile read… as it compares best management practices across the 50 states…

    … on page 6 – talking about factors unique to Virginia….

    “only four other states in addition to Virginia (Alaska, Delaware, North Carolina,
    and West Virginia) leave maintenance and construction of county (generally secondary) roads
    with the state”

    and another very worthwhile read on the VDOT website done by the Virginia Transportation Research Council:

    “Defining Effective Regional Planning in Virginia (Oct 2006)”

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