The SLC recognizes that state employees work hard, not only to provide outstanding services to their citizens, but also by striving to develop and adapt new and improved programs to make their states a better place to live. Such efforts should be recognized and rewarded, and innovative ideas should be shared among colleagues.
The SLC STAR program represents an opportunity to highlight successful programs implemented within your state, especially those that can be replicated across state lines to improve the region as a whole.
Nick Bowman, Research & Publications Associate
The SLC STAR program identifies and promotes innovative ideas and programs from the Southern region’s best problem solvers: the states themselves. The SLC welcomes applications from a wide array of state agencies, departments, and institutions operating within the executive, legislative, and judicial governmental branches. Following a review process, finalists are invited to present at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, and two exceptional programs are selected by a panel of state legislators and policy experts as models of efficiency and effectiveness in state governments in the Southern region.
Creativity – Does the program represent a new and creative approach to solving common problems or issues?
Impact – How far-reaching are the benefits and solutions of the program?
Transferability – From a logistical and fiscal standpoint, could the program or practice easily be transferred to other states?
Effectiveness – To what extent is the program successful at addressing an issue, and how efficiently does it operate?
Virginia Department of Corrections, Division of Education | American Council on Education Accreditation Project
In order to reduce recidivism, the Virginia Department of Corrections, Division of Education (VDOC, DOE) offers career and technical education (CTE) courses to inmates. These courses are designed to provide students with the skills required to succeed in today’s workforce. ln 2014, the VDOC, DOE received college accreditation for five CTE courses through the American Council on Education (ACE). For more than 30 years, colleges and universities have trusted ACE to provide reliable course equivalency information to facilitate credit award decisions. Virginia is the only state in the nation to offer college accredited courses to its inmates. Research shows that ex-offenders who have acquired college credit while incarcerated have lower recidivism rates.
The ACE-accredited courses offered are business software applications, computer aided drafting, computer graphics and design, introduction to computers and print production. Upon release, ex-offenders may submit an accredited transcript to higher education institutions for potential transfer credit in a degree program. Based upon the initial success of the program, the VDOC, DOE plans to seek ACE accreditation for additional courses, including welding, HVAC, plumbing and masonry.
Virginia Department of Transportation and Department of Rail and Public Transportation | Smart Scale Program
In 2014, Virginia became the first state to pass legislation establishing a scored ranking system to evaluate transportation projects based on project outcomes and across modes with their Smart Scale program legislation, which established a statewide prioritization process for transportation projects that improve the efficiency of the commonwealth’s transportation network.
The Smart Scale legislation addressed concerns that the selection of transportation projects was based on politics, not objective data. Projects now are evaluated based on their benefits-relative costs, specifically the ease of congestion, improved accessibility to jobs, improved safety and economic development, transportation-efficient land use and impact on the environment.
In June 2016, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $1.7 billion in funding to build 163 transportation projects that were selected through the Smart Scale process. These projects are fully funded through all phases of project development and construction. The Virginia Department of Transportation has been working with other states that wish to replicate their success.
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