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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

McDonnell seeks to scrap two state agencies | Richmond Times-Dispatch

McDonnell seeks to scrap two state agencies | Richmond Times-Dispatch:

In his latest attempt at slimming the bureaucracy, Gov. Bob McDonnell will ask state lawmakers to dissolve two state agencies, scrap 19 boards and commissions, and deregulate hair braiders.

He also is seeking to merge about a half-dozen state agencies into others and to winnow 23 boards and commissions into 11, according to a proposed reorganization his office released Tuesday.

An early estimate by the Department of Planning and Budget pegs savings from the reforms at about $2 million a year.

McDonnell proposes axing two agencies — the Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority and the Board of Towing and Recovery Operators.

The proposal does not specify what would happen to employees of any of the agencies, but McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said Tuesday that "there will be efficiencies and staff reductions as a result of agency mergers, resulting in a savings for the taxpayers."

"There may be some opportunities for staff transfers to the new, merged agency, but those details have not been finalized," he said.

Some of the ideas McDonnell suggests spring from the ongoing work of his government reform and restructuring commission. Now in its second year, the panel made nearly 40 recommendations to the governor last week.

Del. Robert H. Brink, D-Arlington, who serves on the reform commission, said that in some cases, such as consolidating several social services agencies, the proposed action "cleans up the organization chart, but it's not going to save any money because the back-office operations already are consolidated."

"I think that's typical of a lot of these recommendations," he said of the commission's list. "They really aren't going to accomplish that much and even though the charge of the commission was to think big, I really don't think there's a lot of big thinking going on here."

Part of that stems from having a state government that has been called the best-managed in the nation, he said. "You're operating a pretty lean operation as it is."

McDonnell also issued two executive directives to make changes administratively, ranging from looking at expanding a pilot program of a four-day, 10-hour work-week schedule to streamlining policy and paperwork requirements for state employee time, attendance and leave.

"This coming General Assembly session we intend to advance even bolder reforms to reduce waste and ensure that we are providing the best services to our citizens in the most fiscally responsible manner," McDonnell said in a release.

The governor, who is in Orlando, Fla., through Thursday leading his first Republican Governors Association meeting, said the reforms he wants to advance "include eliminating two state agencies whose functions duplicate work already being done elsewhere."

The agency mergers are intended to streamline the delivery of services, he said. He chose to collapse boards and commissions that duplicate efforts or if he found them to be "no longer an efficient use of state resources."

Also, three professions would no longer be regulated by the state: hair braiders, mold inspectors and remediators, and interior designers.

omeola@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6812
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