Virginia ABC > About > Authority FAQs

Authority FAQs

During the 2015 General Assembly session, HB 1776 was enacted to convert Virginia ABC from an agency into an authority. This move better positioned 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 during 2018 was finalized on January 1, 2019. We hope this information helps future employees, customers, licensees and vendors understand the authority, its structure, its impact on operations and employee benefits.


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.

Potential Employees

How does the authority change state employee classification?

The Virginia Personnel Act is no longer the governing personnel management document. Instead, the authority operates under its own policies and procedures. With the transition to an authority, all Virginia ABC employees are 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 still ensure that employees are treated fairly and receive protections from discrimination or harassment. The authority maintains its own grievance process.  


Has the authority changed what Virginia ABC does?

The authority transition has not changed 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 still operates a profitable business and promotes public safety. 

Has the authority transition impacted the administrative hearings process?

Virginia ABC continues to review hearings processes for addressing disciplinary matters related to ABC law violations, contested applications and franchise disputes. The authority continues to evaluate the revised procedures to ensure that all interested parties have access to an unbiased, fair and efficient dispute resolution system.

What has changed for vendors regarding contracts with Virginia ABC?

The Virginia Public Procurement Act (VPPA) is no longer 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.

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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.