State Report Sheds Light on Internal Issues at Virginia Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries

Dec 18, 2019

This week, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, or JLARC, confirmed a host of problems with the operations and management of the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 

The department regulates hunting and fishing through licensing and its conservation police force.

To the public, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is doing a good job. But inside the agency there are problems that date back to the former director, his deputy and agency divisions-- poor communication and leadership, lack of transparency, and a troubled work culture, according to the report.

In responding to JLARC investigators, female employees said they were less likely to be treated fairly and were not happy with opportunities for career advancement.  "And similarly, but to an even greater degree, there was a sizable difference between how white employees and black employees responded to certain questions," JLARC Senior Associate Director Justin Brown reported. "Black employees were less likely to be perceived to be treated fairly, be satisfied with their relationships with their coworkers. And there's a pretty big gap there in terms of general satisfaction with work culture."

The agency employs about 420 people. Nearly 92% are white and just 23% are women.

Click here to read the full report from JLARC

Earlier this year, as JLARC was investigating for its report, the agency hired a new director, Ryan Brown, who has already begun to fix some of the agency's problems.   "DGIF is an agency that is funded largely by dollars that we generate ourselves rather than direct tax dollars from the state general fund," Brown said in an interview, "and so I think it's critical to this agency's future that we first of all resemble the outside world of Virginia in terms of our workforce and second we reach all Virginians of all types and backgrounds."

Last week, Ryan hired attorney and diversity specialist George Braxton to head a new office of diversity and inclusion.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.