Governor Terry McAuliffe is proposing several structural changes to Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP) – including making the Secretary of Commerce and Trade the default Chair of VEDP’s Board of Directors.
Governor McAuliffe revealed the proposal to reporters Monday (12/12). He argues the change will bring leadership to the board's decision-making.
“Because the Secretary reports directly to the Governor, the sitting administration will now have a greater ability to steer VEDP’s direction according to the Governor’s vision of how to grow the economy,” McAuliffe said. “The administration will also be more accountable for failures of policy and oversight that presently fall between administration and other branches of the government.”
The Governor is also proposing the creation of an internal audit mechanism, as well as a department dedicated to overseeing VEDP incentive programs. He says the lack of reporting and accountability within the organization has led to an atmosphere wherein bad habits and unprofessional behavior occurs.
“These employees and the citizens of Virginia deserve a more functional and effective economic development organization,” he said standing alongside endorsers Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Commerce and Trade Secretary Todd Haymore.
The legislative reform announcement is part of the Governor’s week-long 2017 agenda roll out which is set to conclude with his budget announcement speech Friday (12/16). McAuliffe’s proposals come about a month after the state legislative oversight group released a report detailing a lack of management and accountability practices within VEDP.
2017 gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie responded to the ideas with criticism and a look toward next year’s statewide race.
“The McAuliffe-Northam proposal is too little, too late. Their reforms tinker around the edges of VEDP operations and fail to address the more fundamental issues with the administration’s approach to economic development,” Gillespie said in a written statement Monday.
“There are positive steps that can be taken to improve VEDP. But it will take the leadership of Virginia’s next governor to impose coordination across state government, hold people accountable, and develop a comprehensive strategy to get Virginia growing again.”