The highly competitive national award recognizes a state Chief Administrator for their passion, outstanding service, leadership and commitment to state government.
LEXINGTON, KY, August 27, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — The National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) announced that Virginia Department of General Services Director Joseph F. Damico has been awarded the association’s 2021 National Walton Leadership Award. The highly competitive national award recognizes a state Chief Administrator for their passion, outstanding service, leadership and commitment to state government.
“Director Damico shows true innovation and leadership in state government operations and NASCA is honored to award him with the association’s most prestigious annual award,” said Pam Goins, Executive Director of the National Association of State Chief Administrators. “Joe continued to implement and make significant progress on DGS’ ongoing projects and strategic goals with excellence while simultaneously executing solutions to the pandemic very successfully.”
Damico has served as Director of DGS since 2018, appointed to lead the agency after serving as its Deputy Director for 16 years. His vast experience with the agency allowed DGS to thrive under his leadership during an extremely challenging period for Virginia’s capital city and the nation. Through all the challenges, Joe has remained committed to his DGS coworkers and the citizens his agency serves. His passion, outstanding service, and commitment to state government operations make him truly deserving of the National Walton Leadership Award.
A few of his major accomplishments that demonstrate his outstanding leadership include:
Transforming Virginia’s Historic State Capitol Square
Damico is continuing the transformation he started while he was Deputy Director. He is leading an ambitious series of construction and renovation projects that will result in substantial changes to the Capitol Square complex after 2021 including: building a new General Assembly building, renovating Old City Hall and Morson’s Row, completing security enhancements to streets adjoining the grounds, renovating an older building into a K9 training center, completing two new monuments and more.
COVID-19 Statewide Response and Adjustments
In February 2020, DGS’ Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) became the first laboratory in Virginia to offer diagnostic COVID-19 testing. DCLS established the “OneLab” Public Health Laboratory Network, strengthening the Commonwealth’s laboratory response to COVID-19 by creating a public health partnership with hospital and academic medical center laboratories located across Virginia. This partnership offered increased access to timely testing in support of public health priorities, increasing testing capacity by 61% within two months. DCLS also established a public health network to perform genetic sequencing to monitor for emerging COVID-19 variants, which increased Virginia’s capacity to do so by 400 percent.
DGS’ Division of Purchases and Supply provided reviews of over 1,000 vendor credentials to provide potential sources of supply for PPE and other related goods and services to support the Commonwealth’s COVID -19 response. At its Virginia Distribution Center, staff worked to procure, receive, stock and ship a large number of new PPE items to support the Commonwealth’s COVID19 efforts amid supply chain challenges, stock shortages and transportation difficulties.
DGS’ Division of Real Estate and Facilities Management established building disinfection services, a reporting tool for COVID-19 cases in buildings and action plan on efficiently cleaning infected spaces. DREFM also developed COVID-19 related building policies and procedures, signage, instructional materials and sanitizing materials.
DGS’ State Mail Services (SMS) supported Department of Elections with shipping PPE supplies to 133 Voter Locality Offices during the pandemic. SMS received over 140 pallets of supplies, repackaged and shipped it to the localities in record time.
Stewarding DGS Through Protests and Security Challenges
DGS manages Virginia’s historic Capitol Square, and in recent years has received a growing number of requests for permits for larger special events. In 2020, more than 20,000 gun rights supporters from across the nation descended on the area to protest gun legislation. This event, and other large protests, have required Joe to work closely with law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure the safety of participants, employees who work on Capitol Square, visitors and others. The growing number of requests for larger events prompted Joe to lead an overhaul of DGS’ permitting regulations, which had been in place since 1970. The new regulation will provide updated guidance for obtaining a permit and outlines a process to do so that focuses on safeguarding First Amendment rights while protecting people and historic buildings on the grounds.
Newborn Screening Expansion
DCLS implemented seven-day-a-week newborn screening testing in January of 2019, allowing for more timely reporting of critical results every day. The newborn screening laboratory implemented second tier Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) testing in 2019, reducing false positive rates by approximately 90% and significantly mitigating the need to retest babies for the disorder. The lab also successfully implemented statewide newborn screening for two Lysosomal Storage Diseases – Pompe and MPS1, bringing Virginia’s dried blood spot screening panel to a total of 31 disorders.
Also, important to note is Damico is seen as and continues to prove out his role as a true servant leader. Joe’s team-first mentality and support for his employees make people want to work for him. He is more likely to ensure the Governor knows the name of the DGS employee who maintains the Governor’s Office building than he is to discuss his own accomplishments. He supports his staff while challenging them to do better for themselves and Virginia’s citizens. His commitment to his employees is matched only by his desire to provide superb customer service. One of the first things Joe did when he became Director was to reorganize the agency to better serve DGS’ customers. He followed that by creating “DGS on the Road,” where he and DGS’ business unit leaders went out into the community to meet with customers and answer their questions.
As Director of the Department of General Services, Damico manages more than 600 employees responsible for the renovation and construction of state-owned facilities; implementing procurement policy to comply with the Virginia Public Procurement Act; analytical public health laboratory services; the buying, selling and leasing of real estate; the management of a statewide vehicle fleet; distribution of state and federal surplus property; the graphic communications needs of state agencies; and the delivery of mail at the seat of government.
Damico has three decades of professional management experience in state government and the private sector. He also served both active duty and in the reserves in the U.S. Army, Medical Service Corps, achieving the rank of Captain.
Damico received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics/Computer Science from Longwood College, a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Science in Health Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia, and is a graduate of the Virginia Executive Institute.
The National Walton Leadership Award was established to recognize state Chief Administrators for their passion, outstanding service, leadership and commitment to state government. The award was created to honor Ray Walton for his service and dedication to state government and to NASCA. Ray Walton served as the Executive Director for NASCA from February 2011 through February 2015 and the former Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.
For more information about NASCA’s Awards Program, visit www.nasca.org.
The National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) is the leading organization advancing professional development and best management solutions for the administrative functions of state government. The association provides state chief administrators with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of state government administration through education, networking and information exchange on state government trends, leading edge innovations, standards and best practices.
NASCA’s mission is to help state chief administrators and their teams strategically transform state government operations through the power of shared knowledge and thought leadership.
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