ISSUE 15  |  SUMMER 2015
Virginia Performs, a signature initiative of the Council, is a performance leadership and accountability system that links a
high-level vision and key goals for citizens with performance-based planning and assessment across all levels of state government.

Report Cards Change, Improve Assessment  back to top

Two Virginia Performs report cards have seen revisions in 2015 that reflect both experience and an improved understanding of current realities and the drivers that shape performance.

Workforce System Report Card

Thumbnail of Workforce System Report CardSince its inception in 2012, the Virginia Workforce System Report Card has outlined seven broad goals for Virginia's workforce:

  • Increase the number of students with STEM-H skills
  • Enable all students to complete high school and prepare for college
  • Increase the number of students entering college and completing degrees, certificates, licenses, and apprenticeships
  • Increase student readiness for both postsecondary education and the workplace
  • Reduce unemployment and increase both employment and income
  • Improve the reach of manufacturing instruction and overall employment
  • Create a strong environment for individuals to pursue careers in health care and life sciences (new in 2015)

2015 Adjustments and Changes

Jobs in health care and the life sciences (e.g., biochemistry) not only weathered the Great Recession far better than most industry sectors; these fields are also expected to see continued growth in the decades ahead. Virginia wants to ensure that its workforce is well-prepared to take advantage of this growth by creating a strong environment for individuals to pursue careers in the health sciences.

To that end, a new set of performance measures were collaboratively developed to monitor key factors for nurturing the state's health care and life sciences workforce, including K-12 education opportunities, healthcare IT, nursing faculty, and medical residencies.

Also in development:

  • A method for tracking real-time supply and demand for jobs in manufacturing, health care, and life sciences, as well as in the general marketplace
  • A new report card indicator, Demand-Focused Workforce Solutions, to capture regional progress in developing sustainable, collaborative approaches to workforce development for in-demand occupations in a key industry sector
  • Efforts also continue to make report card data available online

For a complete review, including updates on the state's performance, see the Workforce System Report Card on Virginia Performs.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Report Card

Entrepreneurship and innovation help drive economic competitiveness and figure prominently in economic development strategic planning. Innovation – the introduction of new ideas, processes, or products – helps create new businesses and spurs existing businesses to create more value for their customers. Entrepreneurs are the agents who capitalize on innovation to start and expand businesses.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Report Card thumbnail picThe Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) was tasked by the General Assembly to develop measures for gauging Virginia's performance in these important economic development areas. One result is the Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(I and E) Report Card
, which was developed in partnership with the Council on Virginia's Future. The report card identifies many of the key drivers for both encouraging innovation and tracking its economic results. Its goals are outlined as follows:

  • Expand and enhance Virginia's high-quality, highly skilled workforce
  • Increase support for the research and development activities that provide a foundation for high-tech growth
  • Improve access to capital for new and expanding high-tech enterprise
  • Accelerate the introduction and growth of new technologies and products derived from research in Virginia
  • Enhance Virginia's business climate for entrepreneurs and high-growth
    technology enterprises
  • Accelerate technology-based capital investment and job growth

Changes in the 2015 Report Card

The I and E card's second iteration improves assessment by condensing and eliminating certain indicators from the previous version. In addition, the current report card introduces four new indicators:

  • Entrepreneurship Experience Talent Pipeline) captures the array of activities at Virginia universities to promote entrepreneurship, including formal degree programs, entrepreneurship centers and clubs, and hands-on learning programs.
  • Science and Engineering Workforce (Talent Pipeline) measures the number of Virginians employed in science and engineering jobs and serves as an important indicator for talent development.
  • University Environment (Commercialization) tracks university activity in:
    • sponsoring research relationships
    • promoting faculty and student startups outside of formal university commercialization requirements
    • tenure policies for faculty engaged in the commercialization of research
    • developing seed and proof-of-concept funding
  • Academic R&D Expenditures (Research and Development) assesses what universities spend on basic and applied research activities (expressed as a share of state GDP); these expenditures can lead to technologies suitable for commercial application.

For an update on the State Government Operations Report Card, see our story on the Government Operations Forums.   end of story

Virginia's Scorecard at a Glance: 2015 Changes    back to top

At the start of each fiscal year, Council staff review the performance of every indicator on Virginia's Scorecard to see if any changes are needed. This year's review found that 10 indicators have seen shifts in performance significant enough to warrant a trend (arrow) change. Many of these reflect the mixed developments Virginia has experienced in recent years, particularly in economy and education.

For example, both employment growth and the business climate in the state have suffered since the federal sequester went into effect in 2012. At the same time, however, poverty rates -- which had been steadily worsening since at least 2006 -- finally hit a plateau in 2013 and are projected to drop in coming months.

Other encouraging developments include restored improvement in college graduation rates, steady progress in 4th grade reading and math scores, improved traffic fatality rates, and lower traffic congestion in several of the state's worst trouble spots.

A summary of all the 2015 trend changes is below:

From Trend is worsening to Trend is maintaining From Trend is maintaining to Trend is improving From Trend is improving to Trend is maintaining From Trend is maintaining to Trend is worsening
Poverty 4th Grade Reading/Math Adoption 3rd Grade Reading
Traffic Congestion College Graduation Business Climate  
  Traffic Fatalities Infrastructure Condition  
    Solid Waste/Recycling  

For a look at how Virginia is doing on all 49 indicators tracked via Virginia Performs, see the Scorecard at a Glance.   end of story

GO Virginia     back to top

GO Virginia logoVirginia's business leaders are concerned about the state's long-term economic prosperity. GO Virginia -- a bipartisan, grassroots coalition of public, private, and community leaders -- is working to advance economic growth and job creation across the Commonwealth. The GO Virginia initiative was kicked off July 28, 2015 with events in Norfolk, Richmond, Danville, and Blacksburg.

Three main principles guide the coalition’s work:

  • Virginia needs to diversify its economy in the wake of federal spending cutbacks.
  • Economic growth is regional in nature and requires collaboration among employers, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, educators, and governments.
  • State government must be a catalyst and partner for collaboration.

Over the coming months, GO Virginia will be promoting its ideas and working in partnership with leaders throughout Virginia to develop a framework, including state-funded incentives for positively impacting economic growth and job creation in our diverse regions.

The Governor was on hand at the Norfolk and Richmond events to lend his support for the initiative and underscored that the ideas behind GO Virginia will help to build his New Virginia Economy (pdf). Business, higher education, and General Assembly leaders also expressed their excitement over this initiative as a game-changer for the Commonwealth.

The Council on Virginia’s Future is a partner with the business community on GO Virginia. For more information, see the GO Virginia website.   end of story

Government Operations Forums Seek New Ways to Measure Performance  back to top

The goal of the State Government Operations Report Card is to provide a better foundation for assessing whether Virginia remains on a trajectory that will keep it a "Best Managed State" far into the future. As with the other report cards on Virginia Performs, multiple indicators are tracked to monitor progress toward the following key performance goals:

  • State Government Operations Report Card thumbnail picImprove the quality and responsiveness of government services across the enterprise
  • Continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations
  • Wisely manage and optimize the resources entrusted to state government
  • Protect the health and safety of Virginians while using resources in a fair, accountable, and transparent way
  • Protect and enhance the return on the Commonwealth's investments in its infrastructure
  • Manage, develop, and support the human resources needed to carry out the functions of government in the most efficient and effective way possible

However, many of the issues that matter most in moving state government forward are very hard to quantify. Two recent forums were held to begin tackling some of these concerns.

Identifying the Challenges

On May 10, 2015, Council staff met with state leaders from the Governor's Office, legislative money committees, and key internal service agencies to discuss opportunities to improve the report card in three important areas:

  • Customer Satisfaction: While many agencies have made notable efforts to improve customer service, we have discovered that assessment of customer service is neither consistent nor readily available across the enterprise.
  • Facilities Construction and Maintenance: The state maintains an extensive portfolio of lands and buildings totaling more than 129 million square feet and more than 425,000 acres of land. However, the Commonwealth does not maintain a single, integrated database of its capital assets and lacks a consistent method for predicting costs and needed reserves for deferred maintenance.
  • Leadership Development and Succession Planning: In recent strategic planning reports, many agencies identified "an aging / retiring workforce" as an important concern; succession planning is also a stated priority of Governor McAuliffe's. Agencies are now investing more precious resources to develop employee talent and leadership skills. However, we lack useful enterprise-level information to track our performance in this critical area.

Not surprisingly, there are no obvious or easy solutions to these challenges. For example, a new computer system at the Department of General Services will track the Commonwealth's real estate and office assets, but it lacks the capability to monitor deferred maintenance at the enterprise level; that application would need to be developed once the base system is in place.

Keeping the Customer SatisfiedCustomer satisfaction icons: happy face, OK face, unhappy face

Customer satisfaction presents another set of challenges that emerged more clearly during the forum meetings. First, assessing overall customer satisfaction with government services can be tricky because many of the services citizens use are actually provided by a combination of state, local, and private providers. For example, a wide range of family services is handled by the state Department of Social Services, 120 local Social Services departments, and assorted private vendors who provide services at the client level.

Secondly, citizens tend to be unaware of many state-provided services; as just one example, the Office of Weights and Measures within VDACS assures the quality of gasoline and the accuracy of gas pumps found at gas stations across the state, but few Virginians know that.

Finally, some customer service is actually "B-to-B" -- state agencies (e.g., VITA) providing services to other state agencies. Assessing customer satisfaction for these organizations needs to be handled differently than for agencies which deal directly with the public.

Although no breakthroughs were achieved, both forums further illuminated some of the knots that will need to be untied in order to gain a true assessment of customer satisfaction, and all agreed that more systematic approaches to assessing customer service would be beneficial.  

Stay tuned for further improvements to the State Government Operations Report Card as they develop. In the meantime, you can explore all report card details on Virginia Performs.  end of story