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Authority FAQs

During the 2015 General Assembly session, HB 1776 was enacted to convert Virginia ABC from an agency into an authority. This move will better position Virginia ABC to be more flexible and efficient as a retailer, wholesaler and regulator of the sale of distilled spirits. The transition to an authority is set to take place in 2018. We hope this information helps future employees, customers, licensees and vendors understand the authority, its structure, its impact on operations and changes to employee benefits.

Overview

What is an authority?

An authority is an independent political subdivision, a classification of state government. Authorities in the state include the Virginia Lottery, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Port Authority and MCV Authority. The intent behind turning Virginia ABC into an authority is to allow it to operate more like a business, outside of the requirements of the Virginia Public Procurement Act, the Personnel Act and the Virginia Information Technology Act.

Why transition to an authority?

By its very nature, Virginia ABC is unlike most state agencies because it is tasked with regulating industries while also operating like a business to generate revenue through retail sales of distilled spirits, Virginia wine and mixers. Transitioning from a traditional government agency to an authority creates a hybrid business/public-sector entity which has greater flexibility in setting its own policies, specifically in the areas of human resources and procurement. Some of the organizational structure changes include creating a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position and converting the current full-time three-person board to a part-time five-person board similar to a private sector Board of Directors.

What is the timing of the change?

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority will be created on January 15, 2018. It will dually operate in conjunction with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for the duration of calendar year 2018 to allow for the gradual transition of employees from one entity to the other.

Potential Employees

If I get a job at Virginia ABC before the transition, will I have my position when the organization becomes an authority?

By joining Virginia ABC before the transition, you will be able to serve an integral role in shaping the future of the agency and how it will look and operate years from now. Virginia ABC will gradually transition employees to the authority in waves throughout the calendar year 2018. Invitations will be issued to those invited to join the authority. Employees will be given 180 days to decide whether to accept or decline the invitation. Employees who accept the invitation will become authority employees on a predetermined date. Employees who decline the invitation will be considered to have voluntarily resigned with separation occurring on the predetermined date. Employees not invited to transition will be entitled to yellow or blue cards (which create a preference for hiring in other state agencies) and Workforce Transition Act (WTA) enhanced severance benefits.

How does the authority change state employee classification?

The Virginia Personnel Act will no longer be the governing personnel management document. Instead, the authority will operate under its own policies and procedures. With the transition to an authority, all Virginia ABC employees will be classified as “at will.” At-will employment is the standard employment status in nearly all businesses outside of Virginia state government. This type of employment involves a great deal of flexibility for both the employer and the employee. When an employee accepts at-will employment, they are able to leave their company at any time without notice. Employers are also not required to provide notice or explanation when terminating an at-will employee. At will means that employees are not guaranteed employment for any specific period of time. Authority policies will still ensure that employees are treated fairly and receive protections from discrimination or harassment. The authority will maintain its own grievance process.  

Will employee benefits change when Virginia ABC becomes an authority?

The ABC Authority Act specifically states that Virginia ABC employees will still be considered employees of the commonwealth. Time employed with the authority will add to an employee's existing state service total. Employee health plan options and participation the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) will remain unchanged with the authority transition. There will be leave changes for employees—Virginia ABC is converting to a paid time off program that combines annual, sick and family/personal time, giving employees the ability to use one pool of leave as they see fit. Virginia ABC is exploring adding the benefit of pay for performance. This means that employees who perform high-quality work based on predetermined key performance indicators could be eligible for increased compensation. 

Other

Will the authority change what Virginia ABC does?

The authority transition does not change Virginia ABC's current responsibilities, including the transfer of profits to Virginia's general fund. Whether it’s selling distilled spirits, issuing licenses or performing one of the hundreds of support functions, Virginia ABC will still operate a profitable business and promote public safety. Our mission, vision and values reflect the current and future direction of Virginia ABC. Those include:

Mission: To generate a reliable stream of revenue for Virginia and promote public safety through the responsible sale and regulation of alcoholic beverages.
Vision: To bring good spirits and excellent service to Virginia.
Values: (1) Accountability: We build trust by delivering on our promises. (2) Service: We take pride in our role as public servants and put customers, both internal and external, first in all we do. (3) Integrity: We are fair, consistent, transparent and treat everyone with respect. (4) Performance Excellence: We are innovative, collaborative and strive to improve every day.

Will the authority transition impact the administrative hearings process?

Virginia ABC is currently reviewing processes addressing disciplinary matters related to ABC law violations and contested license applications. The organization is working to ensure procedures are in place after the authority transition that adequately accommodate a part-time board and make operations more efficient and effective.

How will information technology services change in 2018?

The authority legislation exempts Virginia ABC from Virginia Information Technology Act (VITA) statutory requirements. No sooner than October 1, 2018, Virginia ABC may elect to no longer receive information technology infrastructure or security services from VITA. These changes provide Virginia ABC the flexibility to decide the best way for the organization to proceed based upon our unique circumstances rather than the “one size fits all” approach dictated by the Code of Virginia or VITA. It is not mandated that Virginia ABC completely separate from VITA, but rather provides the organization with the option to determine what they would like VITA to continue to maintain and what Virginia ABC would like to handle differently. Using privately maintained IT service providers could allow Virginia ABC the ability to enhance current systems to better support customer usage, such as website hosting. 

What will change for vendors regarding contracts with Virginia ABC?

The Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA) will no longer be the governing document for establishing vendor relationships with Virginia ABC. Removing restrictions imposed by the Code of Virginia and the Department of General Services allows Virginia ABC procurement staff to determine how to best achieve the organization’s priorities and goals using their knowledge, experience and best practices. Virginia ABC is currently reviewing procurement processes to ensure efficient and effective procedures are in place after the authority transition that allow the organization to purchase goods and services needed to conduct business operations.

Questions?

If you have questions and need to get in touch with Virginia ABC, please visit our Contact Us page to find an email and phone number for specific divisions.