- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2002

RICHMOND Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder will lead a commission that will conduct a comprehensive review of state-government services to try and make it less wasteful and more efficient.
"Virginians must again look and ask, 'What do we want of state government?'" Gov. Mark R. Warner said before signing an executive order that created the Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness. "We must take a bold new look at how state government does business."
The commission will have 15 members, who will be appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders in the General Assembly and Mr. Warner. It must present a report to the governor by Dec. 15.
Mr. Warner said state government needs to be more "consumer-oriented."
He also said he envisions consolidating some of the 100-plus state agencies and eliminating many duplicate programs. Mr. Warner, a former telecommunications executive, said state government could be better managed and should embrace new management techniques practiced in the business world.
The Democratic governor acknowledged his efforts to streamline governments could face opposition, especially from those state workers who have set ideas about how the government should operate.
Joining Mr. Wilder as co-chairman on the commission is Capital One Chief Operating Officer Nigel Morris.
Mr. Wilder served as governor during the state's last recession, in the early 1990s.
Over the last century, there have been 13 attempts at making government more efficient, with the last of those, Mr. Warner said, coming in 1994. That coincides with the term of now-Sen. George Allen, a Republican, when the state work force was scaled back.
Both Mr. Warner and Mr. Wilder promised the seven-month study would not "gather dust on the shelf."
But Delegate Leo C. Wardrup Jr., Virginia Beach Republican, said Mr. Warner seems like he is trying to reinvent the wheel with another study.
"The library is full of books about top-to-bottom reviews," Mr. Wardrup said.
Also yesterday, a statewide poll showed overwhelming support for holding an education sales-tax referendum.
A joint Republican-Democratic polling group conducted the survey of residents in every section of the state except Northern Virginia and found that 85 percent wanted the right to vote on the issue.
The poll also found that 47 percent asked said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate in the assembly if the lawmaker were to vote against having the referendum.
A measure introduced by Delegate James H. Dillard II to have a statewide referendum, which some Republican leaders support, would raise the sales-and-use tax of 4.5 percent to 5 percent and raise between $420 million and $489 million for education needs.
"The public is really willing to do more," said Mr. Dillard, Fairfax Republican.
Mr. Warner said he would be open to signing a bill allowing a sales-tax referendum to pay for education projects.
Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., Winchester Republican, said at a news conference announcing the findings that the poll "speaks volumes about how Virginians feel about their schools," regardless of their party affiliation.
"I say to those who oppose this initiative, 'Trust the people, trust the people,'" Mr. Potts said.

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