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. Virginia ABC was turned into an authority 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 did ABC 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. As a result of transitioning from a traditional government agency to an authority, ABC is 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 included creating a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position and converting the current from a full-time, three-person board to a part-time, five-person board similar to a private sector board of directors.
When did the change occur?
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority was created on January 15, 2018. It dually operated 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. The transition was finalized on January 1, 2019.
How has ABC’s information services technology changed?
The authority legislation exempted Virginia ABC from most Virginia Information Technology Act (VITA) statutory requirements, allowing Virginia ABC to acquire information technology infrastructure and services, including those potentially outside VITA, that are appropriate for ABC’s size and type of business. The main areas of divergence from VITA have been focused on Microsoft offerings such as Office365 for communication and collaboration tools—including migrating ABC’s identity to VirginiaABC.com from abc.virginia.gov. In modernizing its systems, ABC looks for software as a service (SAAS) solutions. This is already delivering excellent 24/7 reliability and flexibility to the retail and e-commerce network where ABC serves the majority of its customers. In 2021, ABC deployed the new point of sale (POS) and network and move to a new headquarters in Hanover County with an enterprise-wide phone system and new SAAS-based warehouse management system. Following the addition of curbside pickup and home shipping options in 2020, ABC moved its primary web site to Azure. A full refresh of the customer e-commerce experience is 2022–2023.