Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, taking steps to increase accountability at the state's Center for Innovative Technology, yesterday named two state cabinet officers as temporary members of the agency's board.
"I want the information flowing to make sure that the mission of the CIT is fulfilled," Baliles said shortly after attending a meeting of the troubled agency's board at its offices near Dulles International Airport. "There needs to be a greater understanding among CIT officials of the need for openness. They should come out of the closet."
Moments earlier, in a brief speech to the CIT board, Baliles said his two representatives -- state Secretary of Education Donald J. Finley and Secretary of Commerce and Resources Richard M. Bagley -- would help the agency reach one of its chief goals: linking Virginia's economic development efforts and the resources of colleges and universities in the state.
Finley and Bagley will be ex-officio, or nonvoting, members of the board, according to Baliles, who urged the CIT to accept the two administration officials as permanent voting board members.
Also yesterday, new CIT President Ronald E. Carrier said he will deliver a plan detailing his program, budget and payroll proposals to the board within two months. Carrier declined to say whether his proposal would include major staff cutbacks, but he and other CIT officials confirmed that at least one of the agency's top-ranking and highest-paid executives may resign soon.
Carrier, in a speech to the board, also announced plans to make George Mason University in Fairfax a center for computer science and software development. He said that GMU, centered in Northern Virginia's burgeoning high-tech corridor, is positioned to work with the CIT and the State Council of Higher Education to develop "a world-class" program for computer science and software design.
Baliles, who has played an increasingly visible role in the state's attempt to rejuvenate the CIT and reshape its image, continued to express public confidence in the agency. He said the CIT, with a new president and a moderate shift in its direction, should become the catalyst for economic growth in the state.
Almost since its creation by the Virginia General Assembly in 1984 to encourage research and lure high-tech industry to the state, the agency has been criticized as being secretive and lacking direction.
Two months ago, Baliles publicly denounced the CIT's closed-door policies, directing the board to open its meetings and to draft a plan by the end of this year to open many of the agency's records to public review. A month earlier, in another move to rebuild the agency, the CIT board requested the resignation of Robert H. Pry as the agency's president.
State Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun), who attended yesterday's meeting, hailed Baliles' latest move as an important step in making the agency "more workable, more accessible and more open." He said Baliles' actions and the board's apparent acceptance of the need for a new tone have convinced him that the CIT "is on the right track."
"The whole tenor of his remarks was that he wants the CIT to be more accountable and more open," Waddell said moments after Baliles' departure. "That seems to be the common thread running through all of his comments."