SJR 173/HJR 187

Joint Subcommittee to Study the Regulatory Responsibilities, Policies and Activities of the State Corporation Commission

December 5, 2000, Richmond

The joint subcommittee held its fourth meeting to review the staff recommendation regarding responses received to the joint subcommittee’s request for proposals to provide consultant services. In addition, the joint subcommittee briefly reviewed the status of the work of the consultant hired by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) and the agency’s revision of its rules and procedures.

Independent Consultant

The joint subcommittee obtained a total of $100,000 to fund a contract for consultant services. Half of the amount was provided from the Legislative Reversion Account, with the other half provided by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. On October 11, 2000, staff sent requests for proposals to each of the state’s 14 public institutions of higher education. As directed by the joint subcommittee, entities responding to the requests for proposals were required to address the items included in the Issues for Consideration document. In addition, the request for proposals stated that each proposal submitted should contain, at a minimum, (i) the qualifications and experience of the individuals who will provide the consulting services, (ii) a proposed consulting work plan and methodology to be utilized, and (iii) the proposed consulting fee and schedule of payments.

The School of Public Policy at George Mason University (SPP) was the only institution submitting a complete proposal (the University of Virginia, Mary Washington University, and Virginia State University made inquiries or responded that they were unable to provide the consulting services). Staff reviewed the proposal using the following criteria:

1. Degree of understanding of the work, to be shown by the thoroughness and quality of proposal;

2. Number, qualifications, role, and related experience of professionals providing the consulting services;

3. Amount of compensation required and schedule of payments; and

4. Proposed scheduling of tasks to ensure completion of work according to the established deadlines.

The initial proposal included a total budget substantially over the funding available for the study. After meeting with staff to discuss the proposal, SPP submitted a revised proposal including a budget of $142,999, with the university providing an in-kind contribution of $43,000. Staff proceeded to review the revised proposal using the agreed-upon criteria included in the request for proposals and subsequently concluded that the SPP proposal should be recommended to the joint subcommittee.

At the December 5, 2000, meeting, the joint subcommittee received a presentation from SPP representatives regarding the proposal, including the methodology and intended work plan. Several members were concerned that only one complete proposal was submitted, suggesting that additional proposals should be solicited. The joint subcommittee resolved, however, that soliciting additional proposals would prevent the consultant from commencing work in January and determined that additional proposals would not be solicited.

Members also expressed concern that the scope of the study, as provided by the request for proposals, was too broad to allow a useful report to be produced within the time frame allowed. There was discussion among the members over how best to limit the scope to achieve the maximum benefit from the work of the consultant. Some members felt there was a need to determine whether the SCC was carrying out its mission and objectives in compliance with the policy and intent of the General Assembly. Other members believed that a more prospective approach was required which involved analyzing the prevailing trends of the industries regulated by the SCC and the impact of those trends. The joint subcommittee ultimately determined that the appropriate scope of issues for the consultant to study were encompassed in Item I A, B and C and Item II A and B of the Issues for Consideration document. The joint subcommittee requested SPP to submit a revised proposal indicating the more narrow scope.

Some members also expressed a strong desire for the consultant to include other entities of the university in the proposal. The joint subcommittee requested that an attempt be made by SPP to include other divisions and entities of the university in the study. SPP representatives at the meeting indicated a willingness to include other entities and stated that an attempt would be made to do so in the revised proposal.

SCC Consultant

Regarding the status of the consultant hired by the SCC, the joint subcommittee was informed that the report would be submitted sometime after the first of next year rather than before the end of this year. The SCC will make the report and the consultant available to the joint subcommittee. An SCC representative also updated the joint subcommittee on the status of the proposed revisions to the SCC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. Prior to the meeting, each of the members was provided with a summary of comments received from interested parties. Oral argument on the proposed rule revisions will be held on Tuesday, January 9, 2001, at 10:00 a.m. At the request of the joint subcommittee, the SCC will provide members of the General Assembly with notice of the oral argument.

Under the work plan approved by the joint subcommittee, its next meeting would be scheduled for April 2001.

The Honorable Thomas K. Norment, Jr., Chairman
Legislative Services Contacts: Amigo Wade, David Rosenberg