- Report Published -
|Interim Report on the Council on Virginia's Future|
|Council on Virginia's Future|
|A Vision for Tomorrow: Virginia Looks Ahead|
The Council officially met for the first time on July 1, 2003, the day the enabling legislation went into effect, to establish a preliminary work plan. Following this initial meeting, the members attended a two-day planning retreat in August where they established the preliminary aspects of the vision. These aspects detailed priorities for Virginia to be measured through the Council, while working toward a goal of becoming the best managed state in the country.
The Council then created workgroups to study each priority in-depth. These groups worked tirelessly to provide context and clarity to the larger Council. Efforts included an analysis of state services in each priority area, key trends that will influence the priority over the next 10 years, partnerships that support the delivery of state services, long-term objectives, and key indicators to be used to track progress toward the objectives over time.
From here, the Council worked to develop a preliminary vision. The Council is committed to providing clear benchmarks and goals to the citizens of Virginia that will have relevance and significance well into the next decade. To do so requires rigorous thought and examination, which is the reason why many of the specific metrics have yet to be finalized.
In the spring of 2004, the Council will take their preliminary vision to the public in a comprehensive “Dialogue with Virginians”. Citizens will be invited to comment on the priorities and measurements set forth by the Council and their feedback will be taken into account in the overall long-term plan.
About the Trends and Their Drivers: What the Council Will Uncover Next
Since the Council began its work in July of 2003, many facts and data points have been accumulated (see Appendix A for general public opinion, demographic, and economic information on Virginia). It is clear, for example, that Virginia ranks 47th among states in the percentage of children who are immunized. What we do not know are the reasons why we rank 47th. Why are other states doing better? What steps can we take to improve our performance?
This “pursuit of why” appears over-and-over again in the areas of critical importance to the future of the Commonwealth. It is not enough to understand the way things are – we must also understand why they are so.
And so, the Council continues to work to understand the reason behind the direction of various trends, both positive and negative. When we understand the underlying causes and effects influencing the trend lines, we will then be able, working in concert with the leadership of the public and private sectors, to develop an appropriate course of action.
Amidst this reality is the challenge of information overload. There are so many potentially critical data points available that it is difficult to separate essential information from the nonessential. The Council is working to methodically sort through data in order to determine the vital indicators, trends, and drivers that matter most to the future of Virginia.
After carefully considering the top priorities facing Virginia that directly impact our collective quality of life, the Council on Virginia’s Future developed the following vision statement to reflect the measurable pursuit of its goals:
"Building on a centuries old heritage of leadership, achievement, and commitment to the success of all its citizens and with an abiding commitment to the rich historic and natural resources of this Commonwealth, we aspire to responsibly grow our economy to provide an enviable quality of life by ensuring an attractive business environment, challenging and rewarding jobs reflective of a changing marketplace, and strong growth in personal income, so that the Commonwealth of Virginia achieves a rate of growth in our economy which places us among the top (fill in number) states in the country by (fill in number). We believe that an educated, well-trained citizenry, committed to lifelong learning, is essential to this goal.
We believe that our greatest opportunity to responsibly grow our economy is to increase the levels of educational preparedness and attainment of our citizens so that Virginia will be among the top (fill in number) states in the country by (fill in number).
In pursuing these statewide goals for the economy and education, we want to ensure that all regions show improvement.
We have a responsibility to be the best managed state in the country. To do so we must have a focused vision, and a fiscally responsible system that provides clear, measurable objectives, outcomes, and accountability, and which attracts, motivates, rewards, and retains an outstanding state workforce.
We aspire to have an informed and engaged citizenry so that our citizens can provide knowledgeable input in shaping the vision of the Commonwealth, in identifying appropriate service levels, and in assessing progress."
The Four Pillars of Education, Economy, Best Managed State, and Informed and Engaged Citizenry
The vision statement explains a process for reaching the hopes and dreams for the future of our state. Simply put, the vision maintains that the answer to our future starts with educational attainment. A well-educated, well-trained population is the only way we will be equipped to compete for jobs in a rapidly changing global economy and provide appropriate opportunities and a good quality of life for our citizenry. We further believe that a well-educated population enhances civic responsibility thereby strengthening our democracy.
The vision explains that our economy and our workforce will reap the benefits once we have met our educational attainment goals. Educated populations enjoy enriched cultures and life experiences. They are naturally curious, engaged, and involved. By creating this vision as a reality for the citizens of Virginia, a chain reaction of a more prosperous Virginia will begin. As our economy progresses, it affords us more opportunities to invest in core services thereby making the Commonwealth of Virginia more attractive and competitive.
The pillars of the vision: education, economy, best managed state, and informed and engaged citizenry are discussed below.
Pillar 1: Education
Public education is arguably the true gift of our American democracy in that it extends to each child the fundamental dynamics for reaching the American dream and for thriving in an increasingly competitive world. With the clear connection between economic opportunity and educational attainment, Virginia must be a national leader.
It is clear that the future aspirations of our state will be tied to all Virginia’s students having the skills to contribute to a vibrant economic base healthy enough to support the next generation as well as its most vulnerable citizens. It must be a priority that our young citizens are not caught in a vicious and unrelenting pattern of under-education and under-employment. Citizens and communities must embrace as a principle of belief that quality education, regardless of age, is the surest route to a better tomorrow for every individual, every family, and for the vitality and long-term prosperity of Virginia.
Pillar 2: Economy
Like much of the country, Virginia experienced a prolonged period of economic growth until early 2001. That growth provided opportunities and prosperity for many citizens. The nation and the Commonwealth enjoyed sustained employment and wage growth, as well as growth in broader measures of income and improvements in poverty reduction and educational attainment. The diversity of Virginia’s economy and quality of life of the workforce sets the stage for a continued and strengthening growth in most sectors over the next 10 years.
The vision maintains that only through a strong and sustained economy will Virginia continue to advance and prosper. For these reasons, attention to the economy must be of paramount concern.
Pillar 3: Best Managed State
As part of our vision, Virginia will be recognized as the best managed state in the nation. A “best managed” organization is steered by strong leaders and run by effective managers. Plans and strategies must be in place in order for our state to be successful; however, the single most important factors in moving Virginia forward are leadership and a commitment to measured and continued improvement. As part of this endeavor, we must institutionalize efforts to continuously improve our efficiency and effectiveness.
We will achieve our goal of being the best-managed state by employing performance management. Performance management is the use of performance measurement information to affect positive change in an organization by helping it to set agreed-upon performance goals, allocating and prioritizing resources, informing managers to either confirm or change current practices to meet those goals, and sharing performance results with the public. (Adapted from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Website, Oct. 30, 2003)
Virginia’s reputation for sound financial management and governmental excellence is evidenced by our continued ability to maintain a triple A bond rating. This comes from our leadership’s willingness to embrace the challenges we have faced and to make thoughtful and, in many cases, tough decisions. Over the last biennium, Virginia demonstrated excellent resolve in addressing challenges and critical issues of historic proportions. Our ability to gain ground into the long-term will require the kind of forward thinking that will enable us to plan ahead to maximize opportunities while minimizing or eliminating challenges and obstacles where possible. Effective strategic planning and strong performance management will make this a reality as the work of the Council combines with the strategic efforts of the agencies to enhance performance.
Pillar 4: Informed and Engaged Citizenry
The fourth pillar of the vision of The Council on Virginia’s Future is cultivating an informed and engaged citizenry. As a trend, communities with actively engaged citizens at high participation levels enjoy a higher quality of life standard.
Believing that an informed and engaged citizenry is critical to the vision, the Council on Virginia’s Future is planning a comprehensive “Dialogue With Virginians” for 2004. This effort, a hallmark of the Council’s work for the year, involves interaction with Virginians from all backgrounds to gain their feedback, support, and enthusiasm for the vision set forth by the Council.
Communication will happen through a number of venues and targeted to multiple subsets of Virginians: from state and local thought leaders to the business community to the public at large. By creating customized and targeted messages for each group, we will work to find the energy inside each citizen where they can embrace and participate in their own area of interest, be it education, the economy, or any of the core services of government.
The Council will publish annually data and analysis to measure progress and will seek public input on these findings.
How the Vision Works in Daily Life and Partnerships That Make it Happen
Realization of the vision will propel movement in other progress indicators for Virginia: core services that are essential to daily life. Each workgroup focused on an important area of emphasis for Virginia and compiled a report, which included a preliminary vision and goals to be achieved over time. They also explored the way the state’s general fund works together with a number of local, federal and in some cases private partnerships to deliver the services we all enjoy.
Individual Workgroup Visions
The individual workgroups of the Council on Virginia’s Future compiled preliminary reports that are contained in Appendix B, starting on page 32. As part of this effort, each workgroup developed the following preliminary vision statements:
Best Managed State
(See workgroup report on page 33)
The Commonwealth of Virginia will be recognized as the best managed state in the nation.
(See workgroup report on page 36)
Virginia will continue to be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of its economy. Virginia’s per capita personal income is currently in the top quartile of states, which rank 12th or better in the nation, and will grow to the top quintile in five years (preliminary goal). We will seek to ensure shared prosperity by addressing the challenges facing some inner city and rural areas, which are losing industries and jobs. Virginia will remain a national leader in attracting new business and high wage employers while our workforce development system will give Virginia a competitive edge in business recruitment and retention efforts.
(See workgroup report on page 41)
Virginia will provide an educational system of the highest quality that ensures equitable access to gaining both knowledge competencies and skills to prepare every graduate for a lifetime of work, civic responsibility, and a good quality of life.
(See workgroup report on page 45)
Virginia will strive to attain and maintain the best higher education system in the nation. Opportunity will be afforded to any qualified citizen seeking a college education, believing that an educated population will be civic-minded and economically prosperous.
Health & Human Resources
(See workgroup report on page 50)
Virginians will be inspired and supported toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families.
(See workgroup report on page 55)
Virginia is committed to protect, conserve, and wisely develop our natural, historical, and cultural resources for our children and grandchildren, as they are the basis of our quality of life and economic vitality. We will ensure clean air, pure water, diverse habitat, healthy wildlife, and quality outdoor recreation.
Public Safety and Preparedness
(See workgroup report on page 60)
Virginians will be able to move about their daily lives without concern about crime or personal safety, wherever they go. Virginia will protect the public’s safety and security, ensure a fair and effective system of justice, and provide a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.
(See workgroup report on page 65)
Virginia will enjoy a transportation system that makes it easy to go where you want to go and bring products and goods wherever they are needed. Transportation will be safe, provide choices, fuel the economy, and improve our quality of life.
Next Steps: 2004 Work Plan and Beyond
The 2004 work plan for the Council on Virginia’s Future includes four components: (see Chart on numbered page 18 of the report)
Conceptual Design. The development and evaluation of all components of the roadmap will continue and require strong leadership from the Council. The major areas of focus in 2004 will be to finalize the vision, establish guiding principles, develop the initial scorecard, and coordinate with the agency level strategic planning process.
Development/Refinement of Long-term Goals and Benchmarks. The refinement of long-term goals and benchmarks in Education, Economic Development, and Best-Managed State must be completed within the first phase as they are directly related to the vision. We will target these four areas for refinement before we initiate communication with the public on the vision during 2004. Long-term goals and benchmarks for Health and Human Resources, Public Safety and Preparedness, Natural Resources, and Transportation will be completed by the end of 2005, but may be completed sooner.
Informed and Engaged Citizenry. Interaction with Virginians in every walk of life is an essential component of the Council’s work. This component will be launched in the spring following vision refinements based upon feedback from targeted exposure of this document and the further refinement of vision related metrics. Our approach to this dialogue will be grounded in a strong partnership with regional and local community partners as well as national partners such as the Kettering Foundation, which specializes in citizen dialogue and engagement.
Future Focus. To better chart a “roadmap” for Virginia, the Council will continue to conduct research and seek input from various experts. It will also sponsor “Future Forums” to bring together expertise on a wide array of topics and trends that will affect the way Virginians live, work, and play in the future.
Initial topics will include the impact of the globalization of our economy on Virginia’s economic development efforts, the economic development models for addressing the unique challenges facing many rural and inner city Virginia communities, exploring biotechnology and Virginia’s competitive edge in its continued evolution.
The work of the Council on Virginia’s Future is an evolution. In the pages of this report are many data points, goals and ideas. As our work progresses, we will establish key benchmarks to be measured over time. This “deep thinking” will involve intense careful examination of the issues at hand and prioritizing them, as well as the trend related data to track where the issues are moving in the future. We will work tirelessly to examine the right measures that will propel Virginia forward over time.
As we look to 2004, we are energized by the potential to take what is already a great state and transform Virginia into one of the strongest in the nation. We are committed and prepared to work toward the ambitions of our vision and, working with all the people of Virginia, we are confident it will happen.