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Youngkin largely opts for stability in state government management

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Virginia has a tradition of continuity in state government. Typically, incumbent agency heads are reappointed, even if the new governor is from a different party than the incumbent governor and new Cabinet members are installed. Many agency heads have served multiple governors, from both parties, during their careers. There is invariably a turnover. New governors often seek a change of direction in certain prominent agencies; some long-time agency heads are ready to retire and are not asking to be reappointed. But overall there is stability.

With his appointments so far, Governor Youngkin is well on his way to maintaining this tradition. Of the 34 agency chief appointments announced, 20 were reappointments and 14 are new to their roles.

Here are the agencies getting new leadership:

  • Department of Education
  • aviation department
  • Juvenile Justice Department
  • Department of Veterans Services
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
  • Ministry of Labor and Industry
  • Environmental Quality Department
  • Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
  • Department of Emergency Management
  • Virginia Parole Board
  • Virginia Information Technologies Agency (the person appointed by the Governor resigned after less than a month)

Here are the agencies whose administrators have been reappointed:

  • transport department
  • Health Professions Department
  • Treasury Department
  • Department of Corrections
  • General Services Department
  • Department of Human Resource Management
  • Forest Department
  • tax department
  • Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services
  • Services for the blind and visually impaired
  • Department of Medical Assistance Services
  • Department of Railways and Public Transport
  • Service for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • State Police Department
  • Department of Criminal Justice Services
  • Accounts Department
  • Department of Military Affairs
  • Gunston Hall
  • Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth
  • Virginia Liquor Control Authority

All nominations for the agencies listed above are pending confirmation by the General Assembly. The Confirmation Resolution (SJR 83) was passed unanimously by the Senate and is on the floor of the House. There are still a few agencies for which no announcements have been made. Until Youngkin makes an appointment, they will continue to be led by the directors in place at the start of his term. Finally, there are two agencies with acting directors, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Planning and Budget (DPB). In the case of DPB, Jon Howe was named interim director when Dan Timberlake announced his retirement in early January. Howe is a long-time BPO employee and was a senior executive when he was named acting director. If “acting” is dropped from its title, it could be considered opting for continuity.

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