Jane N. Kusiak
Council on Virginia's Future
Council on Virginia's Future
Virginia Performs is a performance leadership and accountability system that encompasses an integrated array of state agency plans, objectives, performance measures and societal indicators. It forms the basis for strategic planning, performance-based budgeting, and productivity improvement for Virginia’s state government.
To promote transparency and provide citizens with a means to track Virginia’s quality of life and state government performance, the Council on Virginia’s Future (CoVF) launched Virginia Performs. This website is the public face of the performance leadership and accountability system. Since the launch, Virginia Performs has grown in scope, function and capability. Today, it is a vital component of executive management, as it:
• Serves as a catalyst for better strategic thinking and policy, enterprise solutions, performance-driven decision-making, and improved outcomes;
• Supports strategic, regional, and local planning; and
• Provides the information and analysis needed to better inform, communicate, and engage citizens about Virginia’s progress and its future.
Virginia Performs aggregates data from multiple national and state sources and displays the data in easy-to-use text, graph, and map formats. Now citizens and elected leaders can go to one source to see how Virginia - on state, regional and local levels - is doing on a variety of measures from high school graduation to crime and land preservation. State agencies report and use data on Virginia Performs to improve outcomes, increase productivity, create savings, and improve management.
Virginia was among the first states to develop and sustain a comprehensive approach to performance leadership and accountability.
• Agency key measures now focus on mission-critical outcomes and are connected to a vision and long-term goals for Virginia.
• Outcome data is integrated into policy and budget decision-making.
• Administrative measures have been streamlined and simplified.
• Agency productivity measures have been added to promote efficiency.
• Societal-level, quality-of-life data is now aggregated.
Virginia Performs identifies those areas in which Virginia is doing well and those that need improvement, which is a particular benefit for policy makers. It is improving management and service delivery outcomes, enhancing the information needed for budget development, and increasing the transparency of state government operations.
Virginia Performs has standardized and streamlined the performance reporting process for state agencies by aggregating performance data on the website. Virginia government officials now use data to improve outcomes and make targeted investments in programs that meet their objectives and reductions in low-performing programs. Some examples:
• When the Department of Health observed an increase in infant mortality, it allocated additional funds to ten health districts that accounted for 50 percent of the infant deaths. According to the latest data from the Virginia Department of Health, infant deaths decreased from 7.4 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 6.7 in 2008.
• The Department of Taxation significantly exceeded their target by increasing electronic interactions with taxpayers by 23 percent between fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
• The previous Governor established a goal of preserving 400,000 acres of land by 2010. That goal was achieved and Governor Robert F. McDonnell, who took office in January 2010, has set a goal to achieve another 400,000 acres of preserved land by 2014.
• Before October 2006, 90 percent of patient care disciplinary cases -- from complaint intake to final disposition -- took more than two years to close. Only 57 percent were closed within the target time frame of 250 business days by the Department of Health Professions. Today, based on the most recent data from the agency, 95 percent of cases meet or exceed that target.
The Council on Virginia's Future oversees the design and development of Virginia Performs. The website presents data on two levels: (1) statewide societal indicators (e.g., personal income, educational attainment, water quality, etc.) that are linked to long-term goals and (2) agency measures (e.g., percentage of schools fully accredited, cost to renew a vehicle registration, etc.). Agency measures are developed and driven by the Governor and the Executive Branch but are linked to the Commonwealth’s long-term goals through the agency strategic plans.
Agencies work with the Governor’s office, the Department of Planning and Budget, and others to set performance targets and measure progress. Once goals are set, agencies are required to report progress on the Virginia Performs website regularly, so elected leaders and citizens can see how government is working and monitor results.
Agency heads use the data to help manage their agencies and improve service delivery. The Governor and other leaders can also use the data to monitor progress on their highest priorities. Each year, legislators receive “Community Snapshots” that contain data about the counties and cities in their districts in comparison to state and national averages. These “Snapshots” are useful for communicating with constituents about the complexity and interaction of issues at the state and local levels.
Prior to 2006, performance management in Virginia had multiple moving and unconnected pieces.
• Agency plans and metrics were unconnected to long-range statewide goals.
• Many measures were focused on process rather than outcomes and often were unrelated to the agency’s mission.
• Administrative measures existed in a separate silo.
• Agency reporting was often inconsistent and fragmented.
• Productivity measures were almost non-existent.
• Societal-level, quality-of-life data resided in multiple and disparate locations and was often difficult to retrieve and aggregate.
• Little coordination occurred among the elements, creating redundancy, confusion and agency frustration.
• Enterprise views to support decision-making were difficult to obtain.
• The system lacked transparency for policy-makers and citizens.
Among the Governor’s top priorities is ensuring that state government is well managed and focused on delivering results. But because challenges cannot be solved by one leader or even one branch of government acting in isolation, the Council on Virginia’s Future was established in the Code of Virginia by the General Assembly in 2003 and re-authorized in 2008. The Council is chaired by the Governor and includes the Lt. Governor, senior General Assembly members, citizen and business leaders, and Cabinet members.
Virginia Performs, one of the Council’s signature initiatives, was created to address the issues of coordination, accountability for results, and transparency. The Council oversees the design and development of the system and the Virginia Performs website is the public face of the system.
The project evolved in several phases managed by work plans, key deliverables, designated staff responsibilities, targets and milestones including:
• Formulation of a conceptual framework
• Selection of key agency measures focused on outcomes
• Selection of societal-level quality of life indicators (high school graduation, infant mortality, etc.) to track long-term goals
• Agency training on objectives, measures and successful performance management
• Data collection, analysis and reporting
• Content development
• Website design and development
Approximately 84 state agencies now enter data directly into the website to report progress on standardized performance measures (key, service area, productivity and administrative measures).
Technical website design and development cost for outside vendors was approximately $150,000. The project required eighteen months to launch, including concept development, training, data collection, analysis, content development and website design and development. The project is funded from general fund appropriations, using existing staff.
The Council on Virginia’s Future was established in the Code of Virginia by the General Assembly in 2003 and re-authorized in 2008 (§§2.2-2683 through 2.2-2689). The authority for strategic plans is established in §§2.2-5510 through 2.2-5511 of the Code of Virginia.
Societal Level Indicators: http://vaperforms.virginia.gov/Scorecard/ScorecardatGlance.php
Agency Level Plans, Objectives, and Measures: http://vaperforms.virginia.gov/agencylevel/index.cfm
In partnership with local leaders, the first regional prototype, Hampton Roads Performs (http://www.hamptonroadsperforms.org/), was launched in February 2009, using some of the same indicators that are in Virginia Performs and others that are unique to the region.