May 16, 2005 The Revised Organic Act of 1954 replaced the Organic Act of 1936 which was largely a restatement of the Danish Law that was in effect at the Transfer of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 with a few improvements.
The most significant change that affects the executive branch is the increased autonomy granted to elect the governor and lieutenant governor of the Virgin Islands. Very important also was the elimination of the position of a chief executive officer for St. Croix, the St. Croix Administrator, who was appointed by the secretary of Interior. The administrator acted for the governor in the administration of the affairs of the municipality of St. Croix, and supervised all administrative departments on St. Croix, subject to the direction of the governor.
The official residence of the governor was established in Government House on St. Thomas. The governor's authority was established. He has general supervision and control of all departments, bureaus, agencies and other instrumentalities of the executive branch of government
The governor was required to consolidate the municipal organizations and agencies into territorial departments of the government. In the process the St. Croix Board of Education was eliminated and the Virgin Islands Board of Education was created. The Virgin Islands now has fourteen executive departments and the VI National Guard, and eight authorities in addition to other agencies of government, which provide services to St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, under the direction of the governor.
The executive is authorized to apply for most federal funding appropriated by Congress for utilization by the states, to improve the infrastructure and provide services to the citizens, in addition, income tax and other taxes are returned to the VI Government by the federal government. Examples of agencies providing funding are the Federal Highway Administration, Health Department, Education Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health, Federal Aviation Administration, Economic Development Administration and other federal agencies which provide funds for use in the Virgin Islands. The executive now provides both territorial and municipal functions.
While the Virgin Islands falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior, the president of the United States and the secretary of Interior no longer appoint territorial officials. The executive branch now functions basically as any state government in the United States, except that there are no local governments on any of the islands..
The Revised Organic Act of 1954 strengthened the governorship and the executive branch generally, and provided more resources to the government It however gutted the local government of St. Croix, creating a serious weakness by denying the citizens government closest to the people in the American tradition.
Editor's note;Former Senator Arnold M. Golden (8th V.I. Legislature) is a former commissioner of Public Works. He served as administrative assistant to Gov. Juan Luis on St. Croix.
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