Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, announced a plan Sunday to improve government efficiency by enacting zero-based budgeting that requires each agency to justify its existence, expanding Virginia's school review system, and conducting performance reviews of agencies starting with the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA).
"Where I'm from, families know the value of every dollar," Deeds said Sunday, during a Bath/Highland Co. homecoming event in Warm Springs. "That's why I've put forward a plan to improve government efficiency and make sure that every single dollar in state government is spent wisely. As governor, I will continue the progress of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine by cutting unnecessary expenditures, reducing bureaucracy, and allowing Virginia to protect our core priorities during tough economic times."
Deeds' plan introduces a number of new initiatives, including implementing zero-based budgeting, an initiative that requires every state agency to start from scratch at the beginning of every budget period, rather than begin every budget with a "base" amount. This system promotes fiscal restraint by requiring every agency to justify its needs on a regular basis.
Building upon Governor Kaine's Virginia Performs Initiative, Deeds will improve transparency and accountability by posting results of zero-budget reviews on the DPB website.
The plan is available at: http://www.deedsforvirginia.com/Issues/GovernmentEfficiency
Deeds' other initiatives include:
Regular Performance Audits: Deeds will require regular performance audits of all state agencies and cross-functions in state government, beginning with VITA. Similar reviews in other states have resulted in 1- to 6-percent savings in the general fund, with states like Washington saving as much as $3.5 billion. Deeds will enact a sunset law requiring each agency to undergo audits at least once every six years. To accomplish these audits, Deeds will designate a permanent Efficiency Improvement Office within the Department of Planning and Budget (DPB), headed by a Virginia Efficiency Improvement Director from the business community.
Expanded School Review: Deeds will expand Virginia's school review program to put more education dollars in the classroom. Under the leadership of governor Warner, Virginia instituted a school review program that has saved more than $25 million by identifying opportunities for savings and efficiencies in non-instructional areas like transportation, purchasing, and food service. While only 33 school divisions have participated to date, Deeds will work with local school divisions and the Department of Planning and budget to sign up all of the remaining school divisions for the school efficiency review program by the end of his administration. To make this happen, Deeds will create an education performance audit loan fund to offset school divisions' investments in efficiency.
Reforming VITA: Deeds will reform the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) to bring greater accountability and oversight to technology programs. He will accomplish this by requiring the head of VITA to report directly to the governor, instead of just to an independent oversight board. Deeds will also audit VITA to determine possible improvements. He will make the VITA audit the top priority for the newly created Efficiency Improvement Office.
Improving Energy Efficiency to Save Money: Deeds will reduce government energy use by 20 percent by the end of his term. He will do this by expanding and promoting energy efficiency in state buildings and fleet vehicles to reduce energy costs. Under a Deeds administration, all state agencies will conduct energy performance audits of their buildings and operations. Deeds will also issue an executive order requiring that all new state buildings and new state leased space meet Green Building Standards. Finally, he will transition the state automobile fleet to more efficient automobiles and reduce the size of the fleet to save millions of dollars in gas and energy costs.
Adopt Bulk Purchasing: Deeds will aggressively pursue bulk purchasing opportunities to save taxpayer dollars. Virginia state government currently pays for drugs at a wide variety of facilitiesfrom prisons to schoolsin addition to paying for the pharmacy purchases of thousands of state workers and Medicaid beneficiaries. Deeds will aggregate state drug purchases to get a better deal for taxpayers. He will also instruct state agencies to purchase Durable Medical Equipment (DME) through a competitive bid process that includes negotiated discounts for volume - which could result in millions in Medicare savings.