ISSUE 5   |  SPRING 2010

The Council on Virginia's Future works in four areas -- strategic vision / roadmap development, assessment, service performance, and productivity improvement -- to enhance the state's effectiveness in making Virginia an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.


New Indicators on Virginia Performs   back to top 


Continuing to enhance Virginia Performs includes developing new indicators to broaden its scope and deepen our understanding of how well Virginia is doing.  In April 2010 three new indicators were added to Virginia Performs:  Energy, Civic Engagement, and Government Operations.  Our updated Scorecard at a Glance is one quick way to see how this new content fits into the overall structure of Virginia Performs.



Given the challenges of climate change, global competition, often unpredictable cost hikes, and changing policies on offshore drilling, nuclear fuel, and alternative sources, Energy was a natural addition to the set of indicators under the Natural Resources goal on Virginia Performs.

Virginia has adopted an energy plan to address the state's energy independence, encourage efficiency and conservation, promote innovation, and stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. Governor McDonnell has added a host of new initiatives to make Virginia "The Energy Capital of the East Coast." 

The new Virginia Performs Energy page touches on a number of these goals, provides comparison snapshots of the state's per capita energy use over time, brings in specific agency measures related to energy, and offers resources and tips to residents looking to improve their energy consumption. Check out the new Energy page.

Civic Engagement

Nothing is as critical to democracy as citizen engagement. Residents who feel connected to their neighbors, their community, and the political structures around them are far more likely to volunteer, vote, donate, and participate in civic life. And although "civic engagement" per se is next to impossible to measure, the new Virginia Performs page gauges Virginians' involvement by assessing a few classic indicators: charitable giving, voter participation, and volunteerism rates. The new Civic Engagement page can be found in the Government and Citizens section on Virginia Performs.

Government Operations

These are times of economic duress and heightened demands on state government to work better, cost less, and be more transparent. The new Government Operations page on Virginia Performs provides snapshots of state government's performance in finance, accountability, workforce, and IT and infrastructure management. Check out the new Government Operations page.    end of story


cropped shot of Virginia Performs Snapshot brochure
Legislator Community Snapshot Cards Now Available
To all legislators interested in getting the latest stats on their localities (including employment figures): 
Please use the e-mail link below to request an annual Snapshot brochure for your district.  As usual, this will include performance details for each district locality on voter participation, adjusted gross income, unemployment, poverty, infant mortality, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, uninsured rates, crime, traffic deaths, SOL pass rates, high school graduation and educational attainment.
A high-resolution, full-color PDF will be sent to your office for in-house printing. If you would prefer Council staff to handle the printing, please contact us at 804.371.2346 or at
Request Form

A Quantum Leap in Performance  back to top

EKG line graphVirginia Performs continues to help improve performance in state government. The latest success story comes from the Department of Health Professions (DHP), whose mission in part is to ensure safe and competent patient care by licensing health professionals and enforcing standards of practice.

Before October 2006, 90 percent of patient care disciplinary cases -- from complaint intake to final disposition -- took more than two years to close. Only 57 percent were closed within the target time frame of 250 business days, a performance target that is currently one of DHP's key measures. Today, based on the most recent data from the agency, 96 percent of cases meet or exceed that target.

This improvement occurred even though the number of serious sanctions for doctors increased from 70 in 2007 to 98 in 2009. In fact, the leap forward in case processing is so significant that Virginia has gone from 38th among the states (excluding Washington DC) in 2007 to 18th best in Public Citizen’s 2009 ranking of state medical boards.

Prior to 2006, DHP had been aware that cases were taking too long to process, but they lacked a champion and good metrics to adequately analyze the problem. Leadership at the top of state government and the Governor’s system of key measures made the difference. Expectations were set and agency leaders became the champions.

To get the job done, the 13 health regulatory boards and DHP staff established multidisciplinary teams; set targets; developed and analyzed metrics; began weekly reporting on progress; identified bottlenecks and streamlined processes; enhanced equity and fairness by creating a uniform system for deciding on disciplinary measures; and kept the public apprised via quarterly reports on Virginia Performs.

The most recent improvement in case processing marked the 5th consecutive quarter where performance has exceeded the target. Most importantly, the management tools are now in place to sustain the effort for the long term.   end of story

Roadmap Development

Higher Education: The Momentum for Growth Continues   back to top

female graduate with the world in her handsVirginia, like many other states, loses too many of its children in the education pipeline before they get a college degree. An estimate using 2008 data shows that only about 28 out of every 100 high school freshmen in Virginia will get a diploma.

In addition, an estimate developed by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) suggests that Virginia would need to produce an additional 105,000 degrees to meet the attainment levels of top competitive rivals by 2020. This “degrees gap” is particularly worrisome because educational attainment levels in Virginia have dropped for its younger workers. The Commonwealth’s 25-to-34 year-old adult cohort is not as well educated as older generations.

These facts emerged last year as the Council explored the key issues affecting educational attainment -- and determined that Virginia needs to accelerate higher education achievement in order to remain globally competitive. Also in 2009, Virginia’s Business Higher Education Council (a partnership between higher education and the business community) launched "Grow by Degrees," an initiative to make public leaders and citizens more aware of the vital role higher education plays in ensuring Virginia’s future prosperity.

The Council is most encouraged to see that Governor McDonnell has created a new, high-level commission -- the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment -- to study these issues further and make concrete recommendations by December 2010.

For a high-level summary of key findings thus far on educational attainment, you may also see  the Council's Issue Insight #5, Educational Attainment in Virginia (PDF).    end of story

Roadmap Development

Vision Hampton Roads   back to top

Hampton Roads starIn early 2009, regional organizations and community leaders in the Hampton Roads area began developing a comprehensive economic development strategy for the region. Vision Hampton Roads, released in March 2010, is based on broad input from community leaders and citizens and provides Hampton Roads with a roadmap and a plan to position the region as a leader in the global economy. The Vision document analyzes regional and local economic conditions within Hampton Roads and identifies projects, programs and initiatives that address economic development.

Supporting the Vision is the Hampton Roads Performs website, the first regional prototype under Virginia Performs. Ten indicators from the Economy category in Hampton Roads Performs will be used to track and measure progress over time, from business startups to workforce quality to employment growth.

Dana Dickens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Partnership, the lead organization for developing the Vision document and a partner in developing the Hampton Roads Performs website, says to make progress in each city or county “clear goals must be set and aligned regionally, public involvement must be considered, and success must be measured.”   end of story


Productivity Investment Fund logoFourth Round of PIF Awards Announced  back to top

The Departments of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Education (DOE) and the State Board of Elections (SBE) are among the award winners from the Productivity Investment Fund's latest call for productivity project ideas. These awards -- a mix of grants and loans totaling $1.7 million -- are projected to yield cost savings of nearly $9.6 million over the next 3 years.

DCR's two projects focus on bringing Web technologies to help improve water quality across the state, and ultimately, in the all-important Chesapeake Bay: The Nutman Farmer Nutrient Management System will help farmers develop management tools to track their nutrient use, while a new Stormwater Management Enterprise website will create shared resources for managing stormwater flows.

One DOE project, Beyond Textbooks, will explore low-cost technical alternatives to traditional K-12 textbooks. Another project, VaSTAR, creates a high school certification program that starts with surplus IT hardware from government agencies and uses the equipment to train students in IT repair; refurbished computers can then be repurposed in other community settings.

Yet another interesting project will see the Virginia SBE develop a new Web platform that will make it easier for candidates and political action committees to do mandatory campaign finance reporting.

Look for a follow-up on these projects in a future issue of this newsletter. end of story