OLR Research Report

November 20, 2007




By: Kristin Sullivan, Associate Analyst

You asked for information on Virginia's strategic planning initiative started under Governor Warner. You also want to know whether Connecticut has a similar initiative.


In 2003 the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2097 in cooperation with former Governor Mark Warner, thus establishing the Council on Virginia's Future and codifying the Government Performance and Results Act. The legislation charges the council with creating a strategic planning initiative and provides overarching guidelines in the areas of performance measurement and performance-based budgeting, among others. It also requires the council to help develop a performance management system across state government. Finally, it requires each state agency to develop and maintain a strategic plan (including a mission, goals, strategies, and performance measures) and link the plan to the statewide performance management system.

For Virginia, the legislation represented a shift toward a long-term planning style emphasizing productivity, efficiency, leadership, accountability, and transparency. Since Virginia's constitution prohibits the governor from serving for more than one term, the legislation also ensured that the plan would remain impervious to any administration's agenda by giving the council primary responsibility for its development.

While Connecticut has a long planning history, none of its projects have met the criteria for a statewide strategic planning initiative such as Virginia's. In fact, in early 2007 various nonprofit groups requested that the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee examine the state's structure and process for conducting long-term planning. According to a September 2007 interim report the committee issued, “this request stemmed from the stated perception that Connecticut does not emphasize foresight and a proactive approach to establishing public policy, but rather focuses on reacting to crises.”

September's report also states that while planning occurs in Connecticut, “it is generally not the comprehensive or broad strategic planning that sets long-term goals to navigate government toward a preferred future for all Connecticut residents.” Thus, the committee approved a study that focuses on how effective Connecticut's long-term and strategic planning efforts are and how they can be improved. Program review staff have (1) met with current and former personnel from various state agencies, (2) researched the way other states conduct long-term and strategic planning, and (3) examined historical efforts undertaken in Connecticut to conduct comprehensive planning. The final report is due out in December 2007 and will contain recommendations for improvement.


The Council of State Governments defines “strategic planning” as a systematic process for managing a state, or agency, and its future direction in relation to its environment and the demands of it external constituencies. Strategic planning is different from long-term planning, although the terms are often used interchangeably because of the multi-year timeframe. Unlike long-term planning, which deals primarily with vision, goals, and objectives, strategic planning encompasses specific implementation strategies, action plans, performance measurement, and progress evaluations.

According to the Legislative Program Review and Investigations interim report, strategic planning is a relatively recent phenomenon in state government and has become part of a continuous process known as “governing for results,” or “result-based accountability.” Under the governing for results approach, states use a four-step approach in their planning process. Generally they (1) prepare a mission or vision statement; (2) identify specific outcomes that will feed the mission statement; (3) institute a performance measurement system, including

data collection to evaluate progress toward outcomes; and (4) link the budget to outcomes through results-based budgeting. In addition, most strategic planning projects have an oversight committee.


Since beginning work in 2003 on Virginia's strategic planning initiative, the Council on Virginia's Future and the administrations of former Governor Warner and current Governor Timothy Kaine have followed a planning approach that closely matches the governing for results style described above.

Oversight Committee: The Council on Virginia's Future

House Bill 2097 establishes the Council on Virginia's Future as an 18-member advisory board to the governor and legislature comprised of members of the public and private sectors. It is statutorily responsible for designing and recommending (1) the “Roadmap for Virginia's Future” (2) a vision for Virginia's future, (3) long-term objectives, and (4) performance measures. In addition, the Council regularly reviews progress on implementing the roadmap process and updates it as needed.

The “Roadmap for Virginia's future” serves as a conceptual model for the council's work. By law, it means a planning process that may include:

1. developing a set of guiding principals that are reflective of public sentiment and relevant to critical decision-making;

2. establishing a long-term vision for Virginia;

3. conducting situation analyses of core state service categories;

4. setting long-term objectives for state services;

5. aligning state services to the long-term objectives;

6. instituting a planning and performance management system consisting of strategic planning, performance measurement, program evaluation, and performance budgeting; and

7. adjusting the roadmap based on evaluation and public input.

Vision Statement

Shortly after its commencement, the council developed a “vision statement” for Virginia. The vision calls for (1) responsible economic growth, (2) an enviable quality of life, (3) a well-educated citizenry prepared for a successful life, and (4) Virginia to be the “best-managed” state in the country. (Under Governor Warner, Virginia received the highest score in the Government Performance Project's Grading the States 2005 report, an analysis of how each state is managed.) With this vision, the council decided to focus its strategic planning efforts on seven key areas: economy, education, health and family, public safety, natural resources, transportation, and government and citizens.

Long-Term Objectives and Performance Measures

The council created seven long-term societal objectives to help achieve the desired outcomes expressed in the vision statement. Each societal objective represents a key area upon which the vision focuses. Then, with the introduction of the 2006-2008 biennium budget, state agencies established programmatic objectives and measures for programs and services as part of their strategic planning process.

For each of the seven key areas, Table 1 lists the long-term societal objectives the council established and some of the indicators it uses to determine whether Virginia is meeting those objectives. The table also provides a sampling of agencies' programmatic objectives and correlating agency measures, or metrics. However, the latter section is by no means comprehensive since approximately 200 metrics gauge state agencies' progress.

Table 1: Long-Term Objectives and Performance Measures


Societal Objective

Selected Societal Indicators

Selected Agency Programmatic Objectives

Selected Agency Metrics


National leader in the preservation and enhancement of the economy

n personal income, wages, and salaries

n poverty

n unemployment

n employment growth

n workforce quality

n business climate

n business startups

1. assist new and existing companies in making investments in Virginia

2. assist Virginia companies in increasing international sales

3. reduce economic disparity among community

1. Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP)will assist new and existing companies to invest $2.5 billion in Virginia

2. VEDP will assist 250 companies in increasing international sales by actively counseling them or having them participate in a Trade event

3. reduce percentage of localities that have unemployment rates greater than 150% of the state average


Elevate the Virginians' levels of educational preparedness and attainment

n school readiness

n standards of learning: third grade reading

n fourth grade reading and math achievement

n high school graduation

n high school dropouts

n college graduation

n educational attainment

n lifelong learning

1. increase the proportion of at-risk four-year-olds served by the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI)

2. increase the percent of students who are enrolled in Algebra I by the eighth grade

3. increase the career readiness of high school students enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs

1. percentage of school divisions fully utilizing VPI funding

2. percentage of students successfully completing Algebra I by the eighth grade

3. number of industry certifications, state licenses, and successful National Occupational Competency Testing Institute Assessments received. percent of schools that are “fully accredited”

Health and family

Inspire and support Virginians toward healthy lives and strong and resilient families

n adoption

n foster care

n child abuse and neglect

n teen pregnancy

n obesity

n infant mortality

n suicide

n health insurance

n immunization

n cancer

n cardiovascular disease

n smoking

n life expectancy

1. prevent the recurrence of child maltreatment

2. reduce teenage pregnancy

3. reduce obesity

4. increase immunization rates

1. children will be protected from becoming victims of repeated abuse or neglect

2. teenage pregnancy rates will decrease in seven local health districts

3. percentage of adults in Virginia who are obese will decrease 15%

4. 90% of two-year old children in Virginia will be appropriately immunized

Public Safety

Protect the public's safety and security by ensuring a fair and effective justice system and an effective emergency response system

n crime

n juvenile intakes

n recidivism (adult and juvenile)

n traffic fatalities

n emergency preparedness

1. provide Therapeutic Community programming which provide opportunities for offenders to change criminal behaviors

2. decrease traffic fatalities

3. provide appropriate public safety programs to promote successful re-entry and offender compliance with supervision plans

1. operate a Therapeutic Community Treatment program that will result in a recidivism rate of 15% or below

2. by 2010, decrease the number of traffic fatalities by 100

3. reduce the percentage of supervised probation and parole cases revoked

Natural, historic, and cultural resources

Protect, conserve and wisely develop natural, historical, and cultural resources

n air quality

n water quality

n solid waste and recycling

n land preservation

n historic resources

1. improve and protect water quality, especially in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal rivers

2. conserve important resource lands and meet Virginia's land conservation goals by 2010.

1. reduce the annual number of pounds of nitrogen nutrients discharged from significant point sources in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

2. in conjunction with private and public partners, preserve for conservation purposes 400,000 acres of land statewide by 2010


Maintain a transportation system that is safe, enables easy movement of people and goods, enhances the economy, and improves quality of life

n traffic congestion

n infrastructure condition

n land use

1. manage congestion growth on state highways in metropolitan areas

2. maintain and improve the quality of construction projects

1. reduce growth in the annual hours of delay per traveler during peak travel hours on Washington DC Metro area and Virginia Beach and Richmond area state highways

2. meet or exceed CQIP Specification Compliance Score expectations (percent of quality checkpoints in compliance)

Government and citizens

Recognition as the best-managed state in the nation

n bond rating

n taxation

n voter registration and turnout

n consumer protection

n internet access

1. achieve best bond rates

2. issue timely tax refunds and respond to taxpayer inquiries in a timely manner

1. achieve an average yield on bond issuances equal to or better than the market proxy (Delphis Hanover Scale) for comparable bond issuances

2. issue current year refunds for 98% of electronically filed returns within 12 days of receiving the return

Assessment and Public Engagement

The Council on Virginia's Future launched the “Virginia Performs” website in January 2007, together with Governor Kaine, to provide government, businesses, and citizens with a portal to information and data about Virginia and its plans for the future. The site serves as a valuable tool for assessing Virginia's progress in implementing the Roadmap for Virginia's Future and for promoting transparency and citizen engagement.

The site allows users to view Virginia's performance on approximately 50 societal indicators and agencies' performance on approximately 200 metrics. It supports data aggregation, comparison, and analysis. It also promotes consistency in the way agencies report performance measures, links various levels of measurement for a particular issue, and compares Virginia's results to other states and the national average.

According to the council, agencies benefit from better performance data to support decision-making and the legislative and executive branches benefit from such information for budgeting and oversight purposes. The council plans to refine Virginia Performs over time.


House Bill 2097, Virginia,, last visited November 14, 2007.

State Long-Term Planning, Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee http://cgalites/2007/pridata/Studies/PDF/State_Planning_Briefing.pdf, last visited November 14, 2007.

Virginia Performs,, last visited November 15, 2007.