HJR 159: Joint Subcommittee to Study
the Operations, Practices, Duties, and Funding of Virginia's Agencies,
Boards, Commissions, Councils, and Other Governmental Entities
March 18, 2003
The joint subcommittee began
its second year of study with the consideration of an expanded work plan
under the leadership of a new chairman, Senator Martin, who had served
as acting chairman since November. The subcommittee devoted the rest of
its meeting to developing a work plan to address the mandates of HJR 159
to identify duplicative functions and activities of the Commonwealths
agencies, boards, commissions, councils and other governmental entities
and determine whether critical functions are being performed by those
bodies as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Timely Governors Appointments
At the last meeting of the HJR
159 study in 2002, the subcommittee noted a correlation between the inactivity
of collegial bodies (a criterion for review selection) and the failure
of several Governors to make appointments to these entities. Members voiced
concerns that the Governor could unilaterally reverse the intent of the
General Assembly to create an active board by not making appointments.
Members of the subcommittee agreed that contingency appointment provisions
should be examined to ensure continuity in board membership. At the March
18 meeting, the subcommittee agreed that certain issues should be examined
further regarding the timeliness of Governors appointments and agreed
that input from the Secretary of the Commonwealth should be sought. The
subcommittee requested that the Secretary appear at its next meeting to
respond to the following questions:
1. Are there sufficient resources
for the Governor to make timely appointments? What are the barriers that
hinder the appointment process? How has the appointment process been different
in the second year? Are there new challenges that need to be addressed?
2. Should reappointments be
automatic if the Governor has not made them within a certain time period?
Should other appointing authorities be designated in cases where the Governor
fails to make appointments?
3. Are there constitutional
problems with designating alternative appointing authorities, particularly
to policy and supervisory boards in the executive branch?
4. Will the new three-year sunset
requirement for all new advisory boards created in the executive branch
(HB 2115) solve the problem of the inactive boards?
5. Should the Secretary of the
Commonwealth be required to submit a list of all outstanding vacancies
filled by the Governor to the General Assembly annually? Currently, §
2.2-405 requires the Secretary to submit an annual list of all vacancies
filled by the Governor arising during the year, but not appointments that
remain outstanding from prior years. Should other appointing authorities
Selection of Boards and Commissions
In keeping with the protocol
established last year for selecting boards and commissions, staff presented
a preliminary list of entities for possible elimination or consolidation.
The preliminary list included the following entities:
Management Review Board
· Advisory Council to Virginia Business-Education Partnership
· Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Board
· Interagency Migrant Worker Policy Committee
· Sweet Potato Board
· Board of Forestry
· Timberland Reforestation Board
· Virginia Recycling Markets Development Council
· Charity Food Assistance Advisory Board
· Advisory Board on Rehabilitation Providers
· Advisory Committee on Certified Practices
· Psychological Practices Audit Committee
· Child Day-Care Council
· Board of Social Services
· Child Protective Services Out-of-Family Investigations Advisory
· Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect
· Regional Health Planning Boards
· Interagency Coordinating Council on Housing for the Disabled
· Virginia Industries for the Blind - Charlottesville
· Virginia Industries for the Blind - Richmond
· Board for the Blind and Vision Impaired
· Statewide Rehabilitation Council for the Blind
During the presentation, staff
also noted the existence of a large number of additional boards in the
disability services area and suggested that an in-depth review of this
area should be considered. Subcommittee members concurred that communication
with the disability community should be initiated first to solicit ideas
about the restructuring of the disability services area and directed JLARC
to bring a detailed plan with options to review at the next meeting.
Definition of Collegial Body
The subcommittee considered
a proposal initiated by staff to include a definition of collegial
body in the Code of Virginia. Although the term is used throughout
the Code, it is not widely understood by members or the public. Most states
do not use or define this term in their state codes. Florida is the one
exception. It has defined the term to mean a governmental entity marked
by power or authority in each of a number of colleagues. The subcommittee
directed staff to draft legislation for the next meeting to adapt the
Florida definition to Virginias boards and commissions and to specifically
address nonvoting ex-officio members who serve on Virginias collegial
Compensation and Reimbursement
The subcommittee considered
adding to the work plan the examination of the entitlement of collegial
body members to compensation and reimbursement of expenses. A JLARC survey
conducted last year of collegial body staff showed variation in the interpretation
of the statutes that authorize and prohibit compensation and reimbursement
to collegial body members. Section 2.2-2813 provides that members of collegial
bodies at the state level are entitled to compensation and reimbursement
for their expenses; however, many of the enabling statutes creating the
collegial bodies have conflicting provisions, which give rise to a number
of statutory construction questions. The subcommittee decided to ask the
Attorney General for an opinion to sort out the law in this area and to
specifically address the following questions:
1. Do the more specific provisions
in the enabling statute always govern?
2. What is the interpretation
if the enabling legislation is silent?
3. What is the interpretation
if the enabling legislation addresses only expenses?
4. Does the last-in-time rule
apply in determining whether the general compensation statute or the enabling
Agency Reporting Requirements
The subcommittee considered
a work plan proposal to examine reporting requirements for state agencies
to determine whether the reports are outdated and unnecessary and whether
another publication format (e.g., web posting) would be more suitable
to reduce cost and increase accessibility. The subcommittee agreed to
survey state agencies to determine the current ongoing reporting requirements,
the reasons for the reports, and whether the reporting requirements need
to be modified, repealed, or consolidated.
Agency Performance Measures
Staff reviewed historical information
pertaining to agency performance measures. Measuring performance has become
a major initiative at the federal level. Bond rating agencies take performance
measurement into account, and measuring performance is important for Virginia
to maintain its AAA bond rating. However, a 2002 report by the Auditor
of Public Accounts revealed that some state agencies have been delinquent
in reporting their performance measures. JLARC staff also questioned the
utility and selection of some of the current agency performance measurements.
The subcommittee agreed to defer the review of agency performance measures
to the Council on Virginias Future. The council was established
during the 2003 Session to advise the Governor and the General Assembly
on implementing the Roadmap for Virginias Future, which includes
instituting a planning and performance management system.
Dormant Special Fund Accounts
The subcommittee considered
as an addition to its work plan a review of dormant special funds. Many
special funds are currently inactive, but were created through legislation
with the understanding that funding would be available in the future.
Even though these accounts maintain zero balances, they remain on the
books of Comptroller and in the Code. The subcommittee approved the following
multi-faceted approach in obtaining a complete inventory of dormant accounts
and examining recommendations for the next meeting:
1. Invite the Comptroller and
Auditor of Public Accounts to appear before the subcommittee.
2. Conduct an inventory of zero-
or low-balance accounts.
3. Identify legislation that
established the accounts.
4. Survey agencies on their
administration of dormant accounts.
5. Discuss the feasibility of
a sunset for inactive accounts after a period of time.
The subcommittee has scheduled
its next meeting for May 20, 2003, at 1:00 p.m. in House Room C of the
General Assembly Building in Richmond.
The Hon. Stephen H. Martin
For information, contact:
Division of Legislative Services
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