Gov. McAuliffe announces legislation to strengthen Virginia’s economic development partnership

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that he will introduce legislation in the upcoming 2017 General Assembly session to strengthen oversight, accountability, and management at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).

“The legislation we are announcing today will strengthen weaknesses in the management of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and put the organization on the path to become the economic driver for our Commonwealth we know it can be,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at Monday’s announcement. “Presently, VEDP is run by a volunteer board that is responsible for making decisions about the organization’s future, including hiring its CEO. That situation can lead to a lack of accountability when difficulties arise, like those we have seen presented in a recent report by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission.

“While it is clear that VEDP executive leadership has undertaken changes to better protect taxpayer dollars, it is clear that more structural changes are needed. By strengthening accountability and professional oversight of the organization, and establishing a more strategic framework for its work, we can give the dedicated VEDP staff and its board the tools they need to accomplish their goal of creating more jobs and opportunity for Virginia families.

“These proposals will add executive oversight to the VEDP board and require the VEDP executive staff to develop long-term operational plans to align the organization’s work with the needs of the Virginia economy. I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore, and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown for working to develop these legislative proposals that will help build on our success growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy.”

“In addition to building a strategic plan and better coordinating economic development across state agencies, we need to create a culture of accountability,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, speaking at today’s announcement. “That is why VEDP must establish two new functions – one, a Department of Grant Administration and two, and Internal Auditor. Combined, these offices will manage all of VEDP’s administered grants, and with the auditor, we will be able to conduct routine audits of any function of VEDP.”

“I commend Governor McAuliffe for proposing legislation to strengthen the oversight and accountability of VEDP,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Although a number of reform measures already have been instituted within VEDP per the direction of the board and senior management, the Governor recognizes that many more changes need to be made. I now look forward to working with the Governor, Lt. Governor Northam, and the General Assembly to see these needed improvements and others are implemented so that VEDP will again take its place as the premier state economic development agency in the nation.”

The legislation the Governor will submit to the General Assembly to strengthen management and oversight at VEDP will:

  • Restructure the VEDP Board to increase oversight and accountability
  • Make the Secretary of Commerce and Trade the permanent Chair of the all-volunteer VEDP board in order to professionalize the board and increase executive oversight.
  • Increase accountability on the VEDP board by shortening appointment terms from six years to four.
  • Align VEDP with each governor’s agenda by structuring appointments to give each sitting governor a majority of the board appointments within the first two years of his or her administration.
  • Give the Governor the flexibility to get the right board members for the job by eliminating the requirement that every congressional district must be represented through the governor’s appointments.
  • Require appointees to have expertise in certain areas of the Virginia economy, including economic development at the regional and local level.
  • Strengthen VEDP’s organizational management and internal oversight
  • Require the CEO to work with the Governor at the beginning of each gubernatorial administration to develop a comprehensive economic development policy.
  • Require the CEO to develop a comprehensive operational plan that shall be approved by the Board and will govern the organization’s day-to-day functions.
  • Require the VEDP CEO to report to the VEDP Board quarterly on the implementation of the organization’s economic development strategic plan and operational plan.
  • Create a new division within VEDP to manage and administer all VEDP incentive programs and enforce statutory requirements for the programs.
  • Create an internal audit division that conducts periodic audits of VEDP activities and reports directly to the Board.
  • Clarify VEDP’s role as the Commonwealth’s primary economic driver
  • Require the VEDP operational plan to include a strategy to coordinate with all state agencies that administer economic development incentive programs to ensure effective use of state incentives.
  • Establish a biennial survey of other state and local agencies that engage in economic development activity to assess the effectiveness of VEDP’s coordination with other economic development organizations and the alignment of VEDP’s strategic plan with economic development partners.
  • Require the VEDP CEO to develop an action plan to respond to and implement appropriate responses of the surveys.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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