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Implementing WIA Performance Measures. for the European Social Fund Cynthia Fagnoni, Managing Director Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues U.S. Government Accountability Office November 7, 2009. Insights. Performance Measurement: WIA Created a New Vision.

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implementing wia performance measures

Implementing WIA Performance Measures

for the European Social Fund

Cynthia Fagnoni, Managing Director

Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues

U.S. Government Accountability Office

November 7, 2009


performance measurement wia created a new vision
Performance Measurement:WIA Created a New Vision

Workforce Investment Act of 1988:

  • With the creation of a new and comprehensive workforce investment system, WIA also helped lay a foundation for a rigorous accountability structure
  • Harmonizing performance measures across a large swath of federal workforce programs is a major challenge
  • The vision of integration is a holistic one, but accomplishing it has been, of necessity, incremental one -- and therefore, instructive.

WIA Represents Marked Change from JTPA

  • Established new performance measures for the 3 WIA-funded programs (Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth).
  • Required the use of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records to track and report outcomes to improve data comparability instead of participant follow-up.
  • Allowed some state flexibility in negotiating performance goals with Labor unlike JTPA, under which Labor used a computer model to establish national performance goals.
the wia performance system faces old and new challenges
The WIA Performance System Faces Old and New Challenges
  • Performance goals can be a driving factor in who receives services – creating a disincentive to serve certain people eligible for services.
    • Earnings measures were deterrent to serve already employed adults and dislocated workers.
  • Performance data has not reflected all one-stop customers, making it difficult to know what WIA is achieving.
    • WIA excludes job seekers who only receive self-service and informational services from performance measures.
    • Labor has begun requiring states to track and report all job-seekers using one-stops and is planning to collect more information on employers who get one-stop services.
challenges to the collection of consistent data labor has made some progress
Challenges to the Collection of Consistent Data:Labor Has Made Some Progress
  • Labor’s initial guidance to states has lacked sufficient clarity in key terms and contributed to inconsistency in data collection and reporting.
    • When to register job seekers for WIA services and include them in the performance measures has been unclear.
    • What constituted a credential and skill attainment varied across states.
  • Labor issued new guidance in 2005 to better define these terms. It clarified a credential as a degree or certificate and skill attainment as literacy or numeracy gains. However, even with additional guidance, registration of participants still has some ambiguity.
challenges to the collection of consistent data con t labor has made some progress
Challenges to the Collection of Consistent Data con’t:Labor Has Made Some Progress
  • UI wage records have data gaps, but Labor has helped states compensate for these shortcomings.
    • Established a clearinghouse to help states gain access to UI wage records in other states.
    • Allowed states to collect supplemental data on workers not covered by UI wage records.
  • Time lags in using UI wage records significantly delay reporting outcomes and limit the data’s usefulness for program management.
states and localities supplement with their own measures
States and Localities Supplement with Their Own Measures
  • States helped local areas monitor progress on performance goals mainly by developing computer systems to track and report on WIA data.
  • Localities collect outcome information from other data sources for program management, such as follow-up with participants after they leave the program.
  • Local areas also track interim indicators to try to gauge how participants are doing, including:
      • Number of registered participants,
      • Services provided to participants,
      • Number who complete training, and
      • Number who leave the program.
local indicators to assess one stops
Local Indicators to Assess One-Stops
  • Job Seeker Measures. Collecting information on all those who visit one-stops, such as how many visits and customer satisfaction.
  • Employer Measures. Collecting information on employers such as number who use one-stops, type of services used, and how many hire one-stop job-seekers.
  • Program Partnership Measures. Combining key partner program measures in one report to show employment outcomes or using measures of coordination and quality of services across programs.
  • Family and Community Indicators. Looking at factors beyond the program such as changes in local unemployment rate or increases in the average household income.
labor uses wia data to negotiate goals and determine incentives or sanctions
Labor Uses WIA Data to Negotiate Goals and Determine Incentives or Sanctions
  • Labor compiles annual WIA data to develop national performance goals as a starting place for negotiations.
  • WIA requires that negotiations consider economic conditions, participant characteristics, and services provided.
  • We found that these factors may not be adequately considered in negotiations and recommended Labor develop an adjustment model or to consistently account for these factors.
    • In 2009, Labor began using a regression model to set national performance goals.
labor has taken steps to expand uniform reporting for all its workforce programs
Labor Has Taken Steps to Expand Uniform Reporting for All Its Workforce Programs
  • Labor began requiring states to implement common measures in 2005 as requested by the Office of Management and Budget.
    • Substituted some of the WIA measures with new definitions developed for the common measures and applied the measures to all its workforce programs.
    • Common measures will allow Labor to sum outcomes across its workforce programs.
  • Labor has made efforts to establish a single reporting structure for all its programs to consolidate and integrate reporting across workforce programs.
some concluding observations
Some Concluding Observations

WIA challenges Labor with two competing goals:

Local Flexibility

National Comparability

concluding observations cont
…Concluding Observations, cont.

(Rooted in the opening of program services to the general public)

A Long-standing challenge:

Identifying which participants to measure !

Even with Labor’s efforts to clarify this,some ambiguity remains

…which undermines accuracy of data and ability to compare states equitably.

for more information
For More Information


Andrew Sherrill, Director,

Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues


Dianne Blank, Assistant Director

Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues


Laura Heald, Senior Analyst

Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues


GAO reports are available at: